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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 December, 2003, 12:38 GMT
Falun Gong hacker 'died in jail'
Falun Gong members
The Falun Gong movement is illegal on mainland China
A Chinese man jailed for hacking into cable television and broadcasting footage of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement has died in prison, according to the group's website.

The group said that Liu Chengjun had suffered "cruel torture" and that eyewitnesses described blood stains all over his body.

Liu was serving 19 years in prison in the northern province of Jilin for his part in the 2002 protest.

He was one of 15 Falun Gong members who illegally broadcast around 40 minutes of pro-Falun Gong material on a cable TV station in Changchun, capital of Jilin.

The Falun Gong website said that he died on 26 December in a civilian hospital.

It said that his body had been cremated on the same day without an autopsy.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement that Liu had been severely beaten after his detention in March 2002, and had also been ill.

Falun Gong was banned by the Chinese government in 1999, after thousands of the group's followers demonstrated in Beijing demanding recognition for their faith.

Their beliefs blend the ideas of the founder, Li Hongzhi, with traditional Chinese exercises and the Taoist and Buddhist faiths.

Li Hongzhi is wanted by the Chinese authorities, but is currently living in the United States.

Falun Gong has said that more than 840 followers have been tortured to death in China.

The Chinese government has blamed the movement for 1,900 deaths, including people committing suicide and refusing medical treatment.

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