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China Sentences Online Writer to Two Years

A court in the city of Bijie in China’s Ghizhou province has sentenced Chinese journalist Li Yuanlong of the Bijie Ribao daily newspaper ftwo two years imprisonment for “inciting subversion of the sate” in articles he wrote and distributed on the Internet. Li’s trial was held in May, although the verdict was not released until today.

Li wrote several online essays in which he criticized Chinese society and called for greater personal freedoms and democracy. Li’s work for the Bijie Ribao highlighted the conditions among China’s poor, and helped raise funds to send impoverished children back to school.

Li was arrested in September 2005 and only formally charged in February 2006, with his trail postponed three times after that date to the Guizhou Security Bureau could built its case against him. The sentence comes amid accusations Chinese authorities kidnapped Li’s wife and sixteen year-old son to coerce Li into writing a confession in the form of a 20,000-word document. The document was used as evidence by the prosecution at trial.

While characterizing the entire case as “senseless,” Li’s lawyer Li Jianqiang noted Li’s sentence was relatively light compared to similar cases.