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Internet Activist Tao Haidong Goes on Trial

January 14, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Xinjiang Internet activist Tao Haidong, missing for several months, has been tried and is awaiting sentencing. The trial follows the recent arrests of Internet activists Liu Di and Li Yibin.

Informed sources in Urumqi say Tao Haidong has been charged with “inciting the overthrow of the state power” because of opinions he posted on the Internet. The sources say Tao went on trial January 8 at the Urumqi People’s Intermediate Court, where he now awaits sentencing.

Sources told HRIC that Tao Haidong was arrested by officers of the Urumqi Public Security Bureau on July 9, 2002, while he was in the process of posting articles on Web sites in China and overseas. During his secret trial an Urumqi newspaper published a report about Tao on its court page entitled, “Tao Haidong Betrays His Country for US$500.” The report accused Tao of posting materials on Chinese and overseas Web sites from two of his books predicted that China’s economy was near collapse and describing China as the modern world’s largest base of feudalism. The article also claimed that Tao slandered Chinese leaders. In the indictment against Tao and in the publicly posted report, Chinese officials claimed that overseas Web sites paid Tao $500 for his articles.

Tao Haidong, aged 45, spent 18 years from 1981 to 1999 editing a book entitled “Imaginings of a New Human Race,” for which Xi’an officials sentenced him to three years of Reform Through Labor. But after one year and two months labor camp officials felt Tao had been inappropriately sentenced, and released him in January 2001. Tao subsequently become active on the Internet, and was noted for taking part in discussion groups and posting views under his own name.

HRIC deeply regrets this latest example of the Chinese government’s crackdown on free expression on the Internet. HRIC President Liu Qing notes, “The serious charges against Tao Haidong indicate that the Chinese government is determined to continue its suppression of free speech in spite of the great concern and criticism raised in China and in the international community following the recent arrests of Liu Di, known as ‘The Stainless Steel Mouse,’ and Li Yibin, webmaster for the ‘Democracy and Freedom’ Web site.”

HRIC calls for the immediate release of all Internet activists, including Tao Haidong, Liu Di, and Li Yibin.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495