Free-speech activist now faces jail time

Freedom New Mexico

The Chinese blogger and activist known for his efforts to help victims of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 was sentenced to three years in prison late last month.

We have become accustomed to the Chinese government’s free-speech-squelching antics and authoritarian policies and this is another example.

Chinese authorities claim that blogger Huang Qi violated the law because he possessed “state secrets.”

Officials allegedly found two government documents in his home that they claimed he held illegally. Charging Huang with a crime that involves “state secrets” allows the Chinese courts to limit his access to an attorney and prevent witnesses from testifying because of the “classified” nature of the documents.

China often uses state secret laws as cover to punish speech and activism.

Huang’s real crime was his Web site 64Tianwang, which he used to document and criticize the Chinese government’s disaster response efforts for the earthquake and shed light on the faulty construction of school buildings that collapsed, killing nearly 5,000 children during the quake.

After the carnage from the quake, he aggressively advocated for investigations into the building standards of the schools, another faux pas with Chinese lawmakers, which landed him in jail.

To its credit, the U.S. State Department has criticized Beijing about Huang, saying he was only helping along China’s efforts to institute the rule of law.

But unfortunately, a free-speech hero will still be sleeping in a jail cell tonight.