Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu are preparing to try an outspoken journalist for subversion in a Nanjing court, RFA has learned.
Sun Lin, who also uses the online nickname Jie Mu, has been held under criminal detention for more than a year, and faces charges of “incitement to subvert state power,” a source close to him said.
But Sun, who has frequently spoken out against the use of staged “confessions” by the authorities in the past, isn’t cooperating with the prosecution’s version of the facts, the source said.
Sun is scheduled to stand trial at the Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court on Friday, and has maintained his innocence throughout, they said.
“At the pre-trial meeting, Sun Lin accused them of detaining him and then looking for something to charge him with,” the source said. “They initially detained him on suspicion of ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,’ but then they forgot about that and changed it to ‘incitement to subvert state power’.”
According to the indictment, Sun stands accused of sending out and retweeting large quantities of social media posts, using the handle Jie Mu.
“These posts are said to have contained the implication that there should be an end to the dictatorial Communist Party regime, and a democratic China built on the fall of the [ruling Chinese] Communist Party,” the source said.
Sun also stands accused of shouting “down with the Communist Party” at a meeting of party officials at a residential district in Nanjing.
Sun also told the pre-trial meeting that he had been force-fed medication, the source said.
“I heard that this was medication to treat his high blood pressure,” the source said. “He refused to take it, but then he found they were mixing various medications in with his food.”
“So he started hiding it, and he took it out and produced it at the pre-trial meeting and demanded that it be tested and identified,” the source said. “The court filed it as evidence, and said they would have it tested.”
Repeated calls to Sun Lin’s daughter and his two defense lawyers rang unanswered on Thursday.
Sun was initially detained by police on Nov. 16, 2016 as he shot video footage of the opening of the trial of Nanjing-based rights activist Wang Jian.
Wang told RFA on Thursday that there has been scant information for Sun’s family and fellow activists to go on since then.
“The lawyers attended the pre-trial meeting, but they didn’t give out any information at all,” Wang said. “He was mainly detained because of the things he posted online, and for speaking out on behalf of some petitioners.”
He said he has been taken on an enforced, out-of-town “vacation” ahead of the trial.
“I have been vacationed,” he said, in an ironic use of the passive voice that indicates coercive action by the authorities. “I am out of town right now.”
Anger over charges
Jiangsu-based rights activist Xu Qin said she is very angry about the subversion charges pinned on Sun.
“I am highly suspicious of, and angry about, this charge against him,” Xu said. “This country belongs to the people, and not to a political party.”
She said she had hoped to travel to Nanjing on Friday to show support for Sun, but has been placed under close surveillance and is unable to travel.
Sun has already served a four-year jail term from 2007-2011 for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” after he wrote about official abuse of power in support of a group of forced evictees in Nanjing.
He has been financially dependent on relatives since being unable to find work owing to his police record, and his in-laws have had their sources of income cut off too, he has previously said.
China is the world’s top jailer of journalists and bloggers, with 100 behind bars in 2017, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its annual report.
“There is no press freedom,” a citizen journalist from the eastern province of Anhui told RFA when the report was published last December. “There is also very little supervision [of government] by the news media, because the media are all run by the government.”
“The small minority of citizen journalists who remain are also being persecuted by the authorities,” he said.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.