Journalist Jailed Over State Secrets Leak

Journalists in China are fighting for their freedoms after the government’s crackdown on reports claiming to verify top governmental secrets.

A 71 year old Chinese journalist named Ga Yu is now looking at seven years in prison after being found guilty of “revealing state secrets.”

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Photo Courtesy: Chinese journalist Gao Yu, pictured at a Hong Kong press conference in 2007. (AFP/Mike Clarke)

She is accused of publishing a document detailing the Communist Party’s plans to put pressure on human rights, but has denied the allegations brought against her.

According to a CBS News article, journalist Zhang Jialong, said reporters in China can obtain information the government does not want published and put it online for people to see.

The 26-year old journalist was fired from his job at a financial news website for “leaking secrets and sensitive information.

“You’re constantly in fear of having your work removed or getting punished,” Zhang said. “In the long run, you start to censor yourself.”

Instead, Zhang decided to expose Chinese censors by publishing gag orders issued to journalists.

“Please exhaust all efforts deleting… New York Times’ smearing articles about (former Premier) Wen Jiabao” and his family’s assets, one order read.

Another order stated: “Bloomberg published a quite despicable article attacking (then) Vice President Xi (Jinping). All websites are forbidden to post this article.

You can only say what the government wants you to say,” Zhang told CBS News.

Foreign journalists are not given censorship orders, but the Chinese government has a way of getting around that. Officials threaten to withhold visas as a way to control overseas press.

Zhang was part of a group of journalists to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry last year in Beijing. Behind closed doors, Zhang complained about censorship. Soon after, he lost his job and is still unemployed.

“It’s wrong for journalists to cover up (what) they know,” he said. “I cannot help the government cover people’s eyes and ears.”

Last year, 44  journalists were sitting in Chinese prisons. Gao Yu’s sentencing now serves as a cautious reminder to other journalists about the intensifying crackdown on press freedoms.

In response to Gao Yu’s verdict, Reporter Without Borders has published the classified Chinese Communist Party documents as a form of protest against the government’s attempt to control the media. You can view those documents by clicking here.

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