Shandong: A court in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong has handed down a six-year jail term to an outspoken poet who called on ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping to step down, two years after his trial, a media outlet reported.
Zhang Guiqi, 49, who is widely known by his penname Lu Yang, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the Liaocheng Intermediate People’s Court, which found him guilty two years ago of “incitement to subvert state power”, RFA reported.
“They informed his family by phone that he has been sentenced,” Independent Chinese PEN’s freelance coordinator Zhang Yu told RFA. “He was convicted of incitement to subvert state power, sentenced to six years in prison and deprived of political rights for three years.”
Lu pleaded not guilty, and plans to appeal, Zhang said.
“(His family) wanted to see the judgment, but they wouldn’t show it to them because they said it was a crime involving national security, and was a state secret,” Zhang said.
Lu’s arrest came after he posted a video of himself calling on Xi to step down, and calling for “an end to the CCP dictatorship”.
“At least three years of that sentence is linked to his mention of Xi Jinping, because if he’d called on anyone else to step down, it wouldn’t have been aggravated, which would have meant a three-year sentence,” Zhang said.
“That’s one year each for each character (in Xi Jinping’s name).”
Zhang said the video had been seen by a fairly small number of people to start with.
“I’m guessing that he may have used his superior knowledge of the law to argue back, making them … retaliate hard against him,” Zhang was quoted as saying by RFA.
Lu Yang was among a group of rights activists who went to the Shandong Jianzhu University in January 2017 to support a former professor there, Deng Xiangchao, who was targeted by Maoist protesters after he retweeted a post satirizing late supreme leader Mao Zedong.
The Shandong authorities terminated Deng’s teaching contract after the incident, while Maoist flash mobs attacked Deng’s supporters at the scene, including Yang.
Independent Chinese PEN issued a statement condemning the sentencing of Lu on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Lu’s wife, who gave only a surname, Zhang, said she has been barred from giving interviews to foreign media, and has been threatened with the loss of her job by her current employer.