A Chinese journalist who “denigrated” Communist Party has been handed over a jail term of 15 years by a court on April 30. Chen Jie-ren, who has written for People’s Daily in the past, was arrested in 2018 shortly after posting articles on his website accusing local officials of corruption.
The Guiyang County People's Court in central Hunan Province said in a statement that the journalist used the information network to publish false or negative information. The court found Chen guilty of exaggerating “certain mass incidents”, attacking and vilifying the Communist Party and the government, judicial organs and their staff, and instigating troubles.
The Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) association has called for an immediate and unconditional release of Chen and his family members and associates, who have been prosecuted over Chen’s exercise of his right to free expression. Chen was sacked from various state newspapers including Southern Weekend, China Youth Daily, Beijing Daily, and People’s Daily before he turned to publish online commentaries and investigative reports on social media.
China has been ranked 177 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The 2020 report said that China has used the coronavirus pandemic to further tighten the grip on media by banning the publication of any reports that question how it has been managed.
“Of the 100-plus journalists and bloggers now in prison, some held in life-threatening conditions, at least three journalists and three political commentators have been arrested in connection with the pandemic,” said RSF in its analysis.