Cyberdissident Chen Shaowen released from jail

Good news today from China. A cyberdissident in prison for writing dangerous and harmony-disrupting Internet essays about improving life for the Chinese people has been released after serving a mere three years of his five-year sentence.

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the release from prison on 5 August of Chen Shaowen, who had written supposedly subversive articles on the Internet about social inequalities, unemployment and the pitfalls of the Chinese legal system.

He had been in jail since 6 August 2002 after being arrested in Lianyuan (Hunan province) and was given a five-year sentence in February 2003, later reduced to three on appeal. The Writers in Prison Committee of the Independent Chinese PEN Center said he was in poor health and had been beaten up by guards in May.

At least 63 cyber-dissidents and Internet users are in prison in China.

When Chen was arrested in 2002, here’s what RSF had to say:

China arrests 31st cyber-dissident

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of another cyber-dissident in China on charges of subversion and called for his immediate release.

“China has made the simple act of expressing an opinion into an act of subversion,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Chinese public security minister Jia Chunwang protesting against the arrest of the dissident, Chen Shaowen.

“This is not just a violation of the Constitution but also of the country’s international commitments concerning human rights. We remind your government that freedom of expression and opinion is one of these rights. The systematic repression of all critical or discordant voices is very ominous for the future on the eve of a Communist Party congress supposed to launch new leaders,” Ménard said.

Why says there’s no good news coming out of China? Welcome home, Shaowen, and thanks for serving as a model of courage.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

I wonder why he was released early. Perhaps it can be seen in more than one way. One can say it shows that the Chinese legal system is reforming and not severely punishing people who want to express their views. Then again, one might say it only shows they made a mistake in charging him to begin with, as what he had to say wasn’t that controversial. I wonder which of the two it is.

Anyway, it’s nice to hear that he has been released.

August 10, 2005 @ 2:51 am | Comment

First that guy who leaked the Jiang speech got released, and now this dude?
I am double-bolting my door tonight. The streets simply are not safe.

August 11, 2005 @ 3:11 am | Comment

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