Hong-Kong: A former state media journalist for China, who is now an anti-corruption blogger, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for vilifying the communist party and the government.
Chen Jieren, the journalist, was detained in Mid-2018 after he published 2 articles on his personal blog claiming corruption by Hunan party officials.
On Thursday, a court in Southern Province jailed him for picking quarrels and provoking trouble, extortion, blackmail, and bribery.
The court said that Chen attacked and vilified the Communist Party and the government by publishing malicious speculation and false information.
According to the Reporters Without Borders, China is the biggest journalist in the world.
The government tightly controls the press at home, while censoring most of the foreign media outlets through the Great Firewall.
The case of Chen is not related to the coronavirus outbreak of China, but his jailing comes as the country is censoring their control over the Chinese media and the internet following criticism over the handling of the situation in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus.
The Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a Hong Kong-based NGO, said that the sentence of Chen is sending a chilling signal to independent commentators, citizens, and journalists.
Rebecca Vincent, the spokeswoman of the Reporters Without Borders, said:
If there had been a free press in China, if these whistleblowers hadn’t been silenced, then this could have been prevented from turning into a pandemic. Sometimes we can talk about press freedom in a theoretical way, but this shows the impact can at times be physical. It can affect all of our health.