Chinese Anti-Corruption Activist Handed Five-Year Jail Term Over “Subversive” Tweets

Liu Jiacai, a Chinese anti-corruption activist, was sentenced to five years behind bars on the charge of subversion. Jiacai had organized meetings, in the central Hubei province, to defend human rights, and had used Twitter – which is blocked in mainland China – to stand up for social justice.

Human rights defenders have said Jiacai had been subjected to harassment from the state before his 2013 arrest for his attempts to commemorate those who were killed in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. According to his lawyer, Wu Kuiming, the five-year jail term was “too harsh”, Radio Free Asia reported.

Liu Jiacai

Liu Jiacai

Jiacai is one of a number of anti-corruption activists jailed in recent years in China. Last year, three activists who campaigned for officials to disclose their wealth were handed jail terms in a high-profile trial that exposed the weaknesses of the government’s anti-graft campaign.

Rights groups say Chinese President Xi Jinping is widening a campaign to quash dissent among academics, activists and journalists.

The country has also clamped down on NGOs, and a draft law is being considered that would give police authority to control the finances of foreign-run groups.

Despite having 1.4 billion people, of whom an estimated 630 million are online, China has one of the world’s most sophisticated censorships systems on the Internet. Along with Twitter, other globally popular social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and even the search engine Google are blocked.

Chinese versions of most of these have appeared, and are wildly popular, but are monitored by the government.

China has called for greater controls on the Internet worldwide, which has spooked rights activists who see the world wide web as the ultimate bastion of freedom of expression.

Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama called for greater press freedoms in China, saying that countries that oppress their journalists ultimately oppress their own people.

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