Beijing – Internet dissident Yan Jun, 32, has been sentenced to two years in prison on a subversion charge for posting essays online calling for change, including a free press and free expression, his family said on Monday.
The Xian Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him on Monday morning on a charge of “inciting subversion,” his mother Dai Yuzhen told reporters.
“The court took no more 20 minutes,” Dai said by telephone from Xian in Shaanxi province.
Family members and Yan could not understand the court’s decision, Dai said.
‘He wrote a few essays’
“I can’t accept this verdict. Just because he wrote a few essays, he’s going to jail? I can’t make sense of it,” Dai said.
Yan told the court he planned to appeal, Dai said.
The court refused to comment.
The sentencing comes just hours after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao landed in the United States for an official visit in which China’s human rights violations, especially its recent arrests of cyber-dissidents, are expected to be raised by US officials.
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy urged the United States Monday to use Wen’s visit to step-up pressure on China to improve its human rights record.
“We call on Bush to pressure Wen Jiabao to open up the internet, allow religious freedom and allow workers to set up independent unions,” the Centre’s director Frank Lu said in a statement.
Yan was arrested in April after posting five essays online. One essay called for a reassessment of the June 4 1989 crackdown on student demonstrators on Tiananmen Square.
Another asked the government to free former communist party general secretary Zhao Ziyang, who was deposed and placed under house arrest after he showed sympathy towards the students in 1989.
Yan’s other essays called for freedom of the press and of expression and for the government to allow workers to set up independent unions.
He became famous in 1998 when he was among four dissidents in Xian arrested when former US president Bill Clinton visited the city as part of an official trip to China. The dissidents were released two days later.