Man faces court in China accused of downloading and sharing ‘terrorist videos’
The 21-year-old could be jailed for at least five years
A 21-year-old man has gone on trial in eastern China charged with promoting terrorism and extremism after he allegedly downloaded videos showing violence and executions from foreign websites and shared them on social media, a local newspaper reports.
The Intermediate People’s Court of Suzhou heard that the man, identified only by his surname Yang, had been working in the city and spent his spare time in internet cafes, the Yangtse Evening News reported on Saturday.
Yang had moved to the Jiangsu province city alone and worked “stable hours” but it was not clear where he moved from or the nature of his job.
Using a virtual private network to skirt China’s “Great Firewall” internet censorship, Yang allegedly visited blocked foreign websites and uploaded videos to a cloud storage service, then shared links to them on social media, according to the report.
The case concerns 26 of those videos, which prosecutors described as “terrorist videos” depicting graphic scenes of violence, decapitation and execution by shooting.
The prosecutors also said the people in the videos used language and were dressed in a way that suggested they were terrorists.
Yang told the court that he was shocked to find himself facing criminal charges and expressed sincere remorse for his actions.
“I just found the videos interesting so I shared them with others,” he was quoted as saying. “I didn’t expect there would be such serious consequences.”
Police arrested Yang in March after they were tipped off about the case, according to the report.
It is not known when the court will deliver its verdict.
China says it is facing a growing threat from Islamic militants and separatists – especially in the remote western Xinjiang region, where hundreds have been killed in violence in recent years – and has stepped up efforts to counter terrorism. In 2015, it passed an amendment to its criminal code making it an offence to produce, spread and own videos, photos and audio recordings promoting terrorism or religious extremism. Offenders can be jailed for at least five years.