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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
China internet operator jailed
Huang Qi
Huang Qi wrote none of the controversial postings himself
A Chinese internet operator, Huang Qi, has been sentenced to five years in prison for subversion after he allowed articles about China's 1989 pro-democracy protests to appear on his website.

Huang was convicted and sentenced 10 days ago at the end of a trial that began two years ago in Chengdu in south-western Sichuan province, Chinese legal officials said.

Huang was the first person China put on trial for internet crimes. Since his arrest, several others have been detained for posting political material online, according to human rights groups.

His trial has drawn international attention because it highlights the struggle by the Chinese authorities to promote the commercial potential of the internet while controlling political content.

Huang was arrested on 3 June 2000, on the eve of the anniversary of the 1989 army killings of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, shortly after his website posted an essay calling for the prosecution of those responsible for the bloody suppression.

None of the articles on the website were written by Mr Huang, but were posted by visitors to his site.

Mr Huang set up the site to publicise information about missing people, but it attracted postings about alleged human rights abuses, corruption and political issues such as the Xinjiang independence movement and the banned Falun Gong movement.

Huang's sentencing followed a secret order issued on 28 April by Luo Gan, a member of the party's ruling Standing Committee in charge of law and order, to "sternly suppress 'enemy efforts'", the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

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