The founder of a prominent Chinese civil and human rights website was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for inciting state subversion, according to human rights organisations.
Liu Feiyue created and ran the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website, which covers a range of civil and human rights issues, including protests, police abuses, and government corruption — sensitive topics that are scrubbed from most Chinese media sites.
The Suizhou Intermediate People’s Court in central Hubei province sentenced him after he was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power”, according to Human Rights Watch.
“The sentence… once again shows how the Chinese government abuses the judicial system to silence dissidents,” Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, told AFP.
There are “serious flaws in the procedure of this case, without due process in line with international standards”, he added.
See also: How China’s multi-pronged crackdown on dissent took aim at citizen journalists and rights defence websites
Liu’s sentence came one day after human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was handed a four-and-a-half-year sentence on similar subversion charges.
Wang is one of more than 200 lawyers and activists who were swept up in a 2015 crackdown aimed at courtroom critics of Communist authorities.
China’s first “cyber-dissident” and founder of human rights website “64 Tianwang”, Huang Qi, is also facing charges.
Arrested in 2016 for “leaking state secrets”, Huang has since been held in a detention centre in southwestern Sichuan province and was expected to go on trial earlier this month.
Liu was detained around the same time, according to Poon.
“Prosecuting the editor of a human rights website shows just how frightened the Chinese government is about independent reporting on abuses from inside China,” said Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a statement on Liu’s sentence.
The court could not be reached for comment.