Brother of Jailed Chinese Journalist Denies Charges Ahead of Trial

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A file photo of Chinese journalist Gao Yu speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong.
A file photo of Chinese journalist Gao Yu speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong.

Jailed Chinese journalist Gao Yu made her television "confession" in order to make life easier for her grown son, and now denies charges of "leaking state secrets," her brother said ahead of her trial on Friday.

Gao, 70, was charged with "leaking state secrets overseas" after being detained in secret on April 24, and formally arrested on May 30.

She later appeared on the ruling Chinese Communist Party's state television channel CCTV, where she was shown, her face blurred on screen, apparently confessing to having obtained a highly confidential document and sending it to an overseas website.

But her brother, Gao Wei, echoed her defense attorneys' view that the "confession" was made under duress, out of fear of retaliation against her son.

"The lawyers told me that she confessed to doing those things with her son in mind," Gao Wei said. "In fact, she denies it now; she denies it all across the board."

He added: "She is in a very determined state of mind."

Gao Wei, who has been denied permission to visit his sister in pretrial detention, said he has been kept up to date with developments by her lawyers.

He added that the lawyers had gone to court on Wednesday to try to get judges to agree to a reclassification of the documents used by the state prosecution service in its case against Gao.

Gao's trial is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. local time on Friday at Beijing's No. 3 Intermediate People's Court.

The hearing will be held behind closed doors, with relatives denied passes to attend, as the charges have a bearing on "state security," officials have said.

"All we can do is wait outside," Gao Wei said.

Medication withheld

He said that Gao's family had succeeded in sending winter clothing and money to her in the detention center last month, but that the authorities have prevented any of her regular medications from getting through to her.

"She has to get her medication from the hospital, from within the detention center," Gao Wei said.

Gao's arrest came as authorities rounded up dozens of rights activists and dissidents for questioning ahead of the anniversary of the June 4, 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Gao played an active part during the Tiananmen Square protests, and was detained  on June 3, 1989, as China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) moved tanks and troops into the heart of Beijing, putting an end to weeks of protests for greater democracy and rule of law.

She was released after 450 days but was then jailed again in November 1994 for "illegally providing state secrets to institutions outside China's borders" in connection with four articles she wrote in the Hong Kong-based Mirror Monthly magazine.

China's state secrets law covers a wide range of data from industrial information to death penalty statistics, and information can be designated a state secret retroactively.

Reporters, editors, and news anchors are explicitly barred from sharing "state secrets" in any form via any media, and must now sign nondisclosure agreements with their employers.

The sharing of information with foreign news outlets is also expressly forbidden under rules issued since Gao was detained.

But rights activists and journalists say the rules are based on a concept that is dangerously vague.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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