Three dissidents were jailed for up to a decade last year for 'inviting subversion of state power' in a 'secret trial' - the details of which have only now emerged, a Hong Kong-based rights organisation said yesterday.
Seventy-year-old Lu Jiaping, a former soldier and writer on military history, his wife Yu Junyi, 71, and their associate, 58-year-old Jin Andi, are believed to have been punished for a series of articles critical of former president Jiang Zemin, according to the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
Although the three were sentenced in May - Lu jailed for 10 years, Jin for eight and Yu given a three-year sentence suspended for five years - the details were not made public, and relatives had been uncertain of their whereabouts since their apparent disappearance in September 2010.
'According to people aware of the situation, Yu Junyi has been under residential surveillance since the sentencing, only gaining freedom recently, and the families of the three people only learned of the sentences in the past few days,' the centre's statement said.
The verdict against Lu had been reported earlier by another rights group, China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), but no mention of the other two was made at the time.
CHRD wrote in a briefing dated May 25 that the prison sentence was 'believed to come in retaliation for recent works by Lu arguing that former president Jiang Zemin was a 'traitor' and questioning his background and political credentials'.
'Lu and his wife were seized by police in Hunan in September 2010 and taken to Beijing. His wife has since been released,' the statement said.
Digital images purporting to be scans of the first two pages of the judgment against the three from the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court were uploaded to overseas news portal Boxun.com yesterday.
The documents state that, between 2000 and 2010, the three wrote a number of 'provocative articles' at locations such as Lu and Yu's home in Shaoyang, Hunan, and in Beijing, citing headlines such as 'The origin of the Communist Party's one-party system'.
The document added that the three accused had distributed these articles through by mail, e-mail and posting them on websites.
The incomplete documents did not elaborate on the precise relationship between Lu and Jin, who is listed as an unemployed resident of Xian, Shaanxi province.
In an article published online in 2003, which called for an investigation into Jiang's 'history and entry into the party', Lu cited an article written by Jin.
Lu described Jin in a footnote as 'my internet friend, and although we have never met in person we regularly discuss a number of problems over the phone or internet'.