China’s pioneering “cyber-dissident” Huang Qi, whose website documented human rights issues in the country, has been sentenced to 12 years’ jail for “leaking state secrets”. Human rights groups said they feared the sentence – the third jail term for 56-year-old Huang – could cost him his life given his deteriorating health. The Mianyang Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan province handed down the sentence for Huang, who suffers from a chronic kidney disease, on Monday morning, for “illegally leaking state secrets” and “providing state secrets to foreign entities”, a notice on its official website said. He would also have 20,000 yuan (US$2,900) in personal assets confiscated and be deprived for four years of political rights, such as holding leadership positions in government or state-owned entities. Huang founded the 64 Tianwang website – named after the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989 – that reported on sensitive topics such as corruption, police brutality and labour disputes. The website was awarded a Reporters Without Borders prize in 2016, but Huang was detained weeks later in Chengdu , accused of leaking state secrets. Agence France-Presse reported that his 86-year-old mother Pu Wenqing had not been informed of her son’s sentencing. Pu said last year that Huang had severe kidney failure and worried that he might die in custody if his treatment was not improved. One of the reasons for his prison sentence is to serve as a warning to other activists Sui Muqing, a now-disbarred human rights lawyer Sui Muqing, a now-disbarred human rights lawyer who previously represented Huang, said he believed Huang’s health was unlikely to improve while he was in prison. He claimed that police had entrapped and framed Huang on charges of leaking state secrets. “One of the reasons for his prison sentence is to serve as a warning to other activists,” he said. “But I am afraid the main reason is to retaliate against him for helping petitioners defend their rights and for publicly criticising [officials].” China has charged dissident Australian dual national detained since January, lawyer says Patrick Poon, a China researcher for Amnesty International, said he was also concerned about whether Huang would receive adequate medical treatment in prison and if his mother would be allowed to visit. “As we learned from his friends, he has serious stomach problems and the doctors in the detention centre also gave him inaccurate reading of his blood pressure at some point of his detention,” he said. Poon attributed the lengthy sentence for Huang to the veteran activist’s prominence and the government’s growing intolerance towards his line of work. He said it would have a chilling effect on other human rights defenders seeking to build networks of grass-roots activists. “Because of his long-time activism through his human rights website, Huang Qi has gained a lot of respect among fellow activists,” he said. “It’s sad to see that we still see such a long prison sentence imposed on a human rights defender.” A long-time activist, Huang was jailed for five years in 2000 on charges of state subversion and for three years in 2009 for investigating the collapse of shoddily built schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Huang set up the 64 Tianwang website in 1998 to chronicle the stories of human rights abuses in China. He was awarded the Cyber-Freedom Prize by Reporters Without Borders in 2004, and its Press Freedom Prize in 2016.