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Sang Jiancheng distributed dissidents� letter to Party Congress

A Shanghai court has handed down a three-year jail term to dissident Sang Jiancheng for �subverting state power,� RFA�s Mandarin service reports.

The Shanghai Intermediate People�s Court sentenced Sang on Jan. 6. He was arrested secretly on Nov. 10, 2003, the New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) group said in a statement.

Sang was arrested after he distributed copies of an open letter to the 16th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Nov. 2002, HRIC said, citing indictment papers submitted by the Shanghai state prosecution bureau.

The letter was drafted by Zhao Changqing and Ouyang Yi, and signed by 192 dissidents ahead of the Congress that saw Jiang Zemin hand over power to President Hu Jintao.

It called on the government to reassess the verdict on the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and release prisoners of conscience. It also advocated a gradual move towards democracy for China.

Many signatories were later arrested and several, including Zhao, Dai Xuezhong, He Depu, and Jiang Lijun, have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Ouyang, a 35-year-old elementary-school teacher, stood trial for subversion in October 2003, but no verdict or sentence was handed down by the Chengdu Intermediate People�s Court. Instead, the court has repeatedly requested more information from prosecutors, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy in China said in a statement.

China has seen a string of subversion cases in recent months, as authorities crack down on anyone aiming to spread dissenting opinions, especially via the Internet. More than 30 people are thought to have been detained for airing criticisms of the regime online since Internet use began to burgeon in the late 1990s.

Overall, the government�s policy has been to encourage the use of the Internet for business and educational purposes, but not for political discussion. #####


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