Blogger jailed for six years as Beijing gets tough on 'rumour-mongering'

Dong Rubin, long-running critic of official wrongdoing, handed 6½ year sentence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 5:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 9:21am

A court in Yunnan has convicted a well-known microblogger on the charges of "illegal business practices" and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble".

Dong Rubin was jailed for 6½ years and fined 350,000 yuan (HK$440,000), a court in Kunming announced yesterday.

His business partner, Hou Bin, was sentenced to three years' jail, suspended for three years, and fined 50,000 yuan, the court said.

State internet regulators have launched a crackdown on online "rumour-mongering" and shut down about 80 websites for the offence since last week.

Dong, an internet consultant better known by his internet alias "Bianmin", gained online prominence in 2009 amid public outrage as officials in Yunnan attempted to cover up the violent death of Li Qiaoming, who was in police custody.

Dong was detained in September, a month after authorities launched the anti-rumour campaign at the national level.

The court said Dong fabricated information and circulated it, including particulars of an investigation into a Mekong River attack in which 13 Chinese sailors were murdered in October 2011 by a Myanmese drug lord and his gang members.

Dong's claims were widely circulated online. The news website of the People's Daily, quoted the court as saying he had "denigrated the image of state departments and the government, severely disturbed the public order, and caused an extremely bad social influence".

Four websites - including an online forum in Jiangxi and a website about PLA generals and leaders - have been shut down for failing to obtain proper licences and for circulating rumours. Forty-three others have been temporarily closed, Xinhua quoted the State Internet Information Office as saying.

Some websites operated by government departments also became channels for spreading rumours, the report said but did not name them.