Chinese journalist tried on state secrets charge

AP News
Posted: Nov 20, 2014 10:55 PM

BEIJING (AP) — A veteran journalist who is one of the best-known intellectuals to have been imprisoned for supporting the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests went on trial Friday in closed-door proceedings in Beijing on new accusations of leaking state secrets.

Gao Yu, 70, was detained for illegally obtaining a secret Communist Party document and providing it to a website for publication, according to previous state media reports. Those reports did not identify the document, but it appeared to refer to reports outside the mainland last year about a high-level, internal circular seen as outlining the party's strategy of attacking Western democratic ideals and crushing dissent to protect its rule.

Gao was standing trial at Beijing No. 3 People's Intermediate Court. Police prevented journalists from entering the proceedings, but confirmed that the trial was underway.

Her lawyer, Shang Baojun, said the independent journalist faced a charge of revealing state secrets.

Gao previously was imprisoned on state secrets charges for more than a year after the 1989 crackdown. She was detained again in April, weeks before the 25th anniversary of the bloody military suppression of the protesters that killed at least hundreds.

The party's strategy paper — known as Document No. 9 — was seen by political observers as early and significant evidence of the hard-line political stance of the leadership of Xi Jinping, who was appointed party chief in late 2012. The Hong Kong-based magazine Mirror Monthly published Document No. 9 on its website in August last year.

At the time, Gao told The Associated Press that she saw the document as detailing the party's vision of pushing economic reforms in China but preventing challenges to one-party rule.

The reported document argued for aggressively curbing the spread of notions of Western democracy, universal values, civil society, freedom of press and other ideological concepts the party believed threatened its legitimacy.

"Gao is the latest victim of China's vaguely worded and arbitrary state secret laws which the authorities continue to use to target activists," William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement.