Mainland journalist Gao Yu, who was earlier convicted of “illegally providing state secrets to overseas personnel”, has had her detention stay extended and her appeal delayed. The new hearing date will be in January 2016. The 71-year-old, whose health has been deteriorating, questioned whether the authorities wanted to “leave [her] to die in here”.

Gao was found guilty at a Beijing’s No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court of leaking state secrets and was sentenced to seven years in prison this April. She had denied the charge and said that her public confession was made under duress. Gao then filed for an appeal, which was supposed to be processed in two months. In July, it was reported that Gao’s appeal verdict would be delayed for two months. She is now facing a further delay in her appeal date with her detention extended for an extra three months – a move her lawyers said was illegal, RFA reported.

According to criminal procedure laws in China, second instance trials can only be delayed with the permission of the People’s Republic of China Supreme People’s Court, Stand News reported.

Gao Yu. Photo: Stand News.

In an interview with RFA, Gao’s lawyer, Shang Baojun, said that he visited Gao on Tuesday and found out that she had not been informed of the delay by the court or the prison guards. Gao was said to be shocked and frustrated at the news.

“Dragging it on for so long, is my case so complicated?” Gao told Shang.

The journalist suffered a heart attack on October 3 and had to receive emergency treatment from medical staff in prison. In the absence of proper medication, Gao recovered slowly and had to be put on a drip for a week. According to Shang, Gao’s health was deteriorating and her heart episodes were becoming more frequent.

The journalist also suffers from conditions such as chronic heart pain and high blood pressure. Many have campaigned for Gao to be released on medical parole, as only basic medical facilities were available at her detention centre.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.