Chinese dissident Chen Xi has become the second dissident in four days to be jailed for inciting subversions through online essays; he was given a 10-year jail sentence Monday by a Chinese court in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province.
Another pro-democracy dissident, Chen Wei, was sentenced Friday to nine years. The two men are not related.
Chen Xi's sentence is one of the heaviest for inciting subversion since Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel laureate, was jailed for 11 years on Dec. 25, 2009. Chen, who was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, will not appeal the conviction, his wife, Zhang Qunxuan said, though she maintained her husband's innocence.
Chen Xi told the court it did not take into consideration the things he has written as a whole and has interpreted his words out of context. But they have the power and they don't listen, she said. The judge said this was a major crime that had a malign impact.
Chen, 57, was tried on charges linked to 36 political essays he published online. He was detained on Nov. 29 after campaigning for independent candidates to win seats in upcoming elections to the People's Congress. His family was given notice of the trial on Saturday, The Guardian newspaper of Britain reported.
The judge also said Chen was a repeat offender, Zhang told Reuters; he has been jailed several times for criticizing the government and for hosting the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, of which he is a leading member. The organization has been deemed illegal by authorities, Amnesty International reported.
Chen Wei, a former student leader in the 1990s, was sentenced to nine years for similar charges of inciting subversion of state power. He allegedly posted four articles online, criticizing the government. He was involved in drafting articles for a number of overseas Web sites, UPI reported.
Both Chen Xi and Chen Wei signed Charter 08, which urges political reforms.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was deeply concerned about the Chen Wei verdict.
The conviction and extremely harsh sentencing of Chen Wei indicates a further tightening of the severe restrictions on the scope of freedom of expression in China that has been seen over the last two years, she said in a statement.
Wei's verdict, along with that of Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer sentenced to three years in jail a week before Wei, are the latest examples of an escalating clampdown on the activities of human rights defenders in China, Pillay added.