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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
Falun Gong 'TV hackers' on trial
Falun Gong practitioners
China calls Falun Gong an evil cult
Members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have gone on trial in China, charged with hacking into a cable television network and broadcasting pro-Falun Gong messages.

The Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, said television services in the cities of Changchun and Songyuan in north-east China were suspended for up to four hours in March this year.


Some Falun Gong devotees hijacked the cable TV transmission and broadcast a propaganda programme for the evil cult

Xinhua news agency
Fifteen Falun Gong practitioners are now on trial in Changchun on charges of sabotage and organising a cult.

Chinese police say the group were well organised and had financial and technical support.

The Falun Gong movement, which China says is trying to overthrow the Communist Party, was banned on mainland China three years ago.

Falun Gong says it is spiritual group that teaches exercise and meditation.

Thousands affected

If convicted they face a possible three to seven years in prison for breaching broadcasting and public telecom facilities and undermining public security, Xinhua said.

Li Hongzhi
A programme on the group's founder Li Hongzhi was aired

In Songyuan city, 16,000 subscribers were affected on the evening of 5 March as regular television programmes were suspended for nearly four hours, the agency said.

And four districts in Changchun city suffered disruption after two trunk cable television transmission lines were cut off, Xinhua reported.

"Some Falun Gong devotees hijacked the cable TV transmission and broadcast a propaganda programme for the evil cult through the use of their own small-sized broadcasting equipment," Xinhua said.

"The perpetrators damaged TV broadcasting equipment that was under protection of state laws and disrupted the public order of society in a serious way," the news agency added.

Boxing clever

Correspondents say that China's clamp down on the spiritual movement has prevented it from staging the high-profile demonstrations it used to.

As a result they have changed their tactics - overriding television signals several times to broadcast footage promoting the group.

For the most part these broadcasts were restricted small local television stations, but in June they managed to hijack a state-run satellite broadcast during the football World Cup finals.

The move enraged Beijing, which threatened severe punishments for any perpetrators of such acts.


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18 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
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