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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Chinese webmaster tried for subversion
Huang Qi and son
Huang, seen here with his son, was arrested last June
A Chinese website creator accused of posting subversive articles on the internet has been tried in secret in China.

Huang Qi was tried on Tuesday by the Chengdu Intermediate Court in the southwestern province of Sichuan, but no verdict or sentencing date has been announced

The trial was held behind closed doors and family members were not allowed to attend.

It is thought to be the first time an internet entrepreneur has been prosecuted by the Chinese authorities for allowing others to put politically-sensitive material on the web.

Pro-democracy material

Mr Huang published the website, It contained articles about pro-democracy activism in China, the banned spiritual group Falun Gong and the independence movement in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

CPJ calls for his unconditional release and urges the Chinese Government to stop its efforts to stifle free expression on the internet

Committee to Protect Journalists
He launched the website, known as the "Tianwang Missing Persons Web Site", to help find relatives and friends of those who died or disappeared during the crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.

He was arrested on in June last year, the eve of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

His trial began in February but was postponed three times.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned his trial as a violation of China's own criminal code and international human rights standards.

"CPJ calls for his unconditional release and urges the Chinese Government to stop its efforts to stifle free expression on the internet," said the group.

Controlling the net

The case highlights China's struggle to promote the internet for commercial purposes while trying to control political content.

Chinese teenagers
Foreign news sites have been blocked
Internet use has boomed in China - the number of users doubled in the first eight months of 2000 to 16.9 million.

China routinely blocks websites of Western media outlets, human rights groups, Tibetan exiles and other sources of information it deems politically sensitive or harmful.

Last year, China introduced strict new guidelines to try to control the kind of material published on the internet.

Mr Huang's website has been hosted by a US server since April 2000 and remains accessible outside China.

See also:

13 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese website creator goes on trial
15 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China charges web entrepreneur
07 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
China arrests internet editor
29 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
China moves to control internet
02 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
China cracks down on internet cafes
20 Jan 99 | Asia-Pacific
Prison for China Net dissident
29 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Can governments control the internet?
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