A Shenzhen court sentenced Hong Kong publisher Yiu Man-tin to 10 years in jail yesterday for "smuggling ordinary goods", his lawyer said.
The retired engineer-turned-publisher, 73, who is also known as Yao Wentian, was detained on October 27. Prior to his arrest he had been preparing to publish a book entitled Godfather Xi Jinping by dissident and writer Yu Jie, according to his family and friends.
"The verdict is unfair," Ding Xikui, Yiu's lawyer, said.
Yiu's 74-year-old wife, who recently underwent foot surgery in Hong Kong and could not make it to the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court, said she was contemplating an appeal: "Of course I think the verdict is unjust. He did nothing wrong. I want to appeal, but I have to discuss that with the lawyers first."
Yiu was formally arrested on November 12. Due to his declining health, which includes asthma and heart problems, he had been held in the medical ward of a detention centre. His lawyer's request for medical parole was rejected.
Authorities in Shenzhen said Yiu brought in bottles of industrial paint from Hong Kong without paying import duties.
But his son, Edmond Yiu Yung-chin, believed his father had been set up to prevent him from publishing "subversive" books on Chinese leaders.
In January, the younger Yiu wrote an open letter that called on President Xi Jinping to stop the "political persecution" of his father and honour Hong Kong's press freedom.
In the letter, he noted that Yiu had been harassed before for collaborating with Yu on his earlier book, Hu Jintao: Harmony King, an examination of the former president and his "harmonious" rule.