These netizens from southern Fujian Province shouted, “Speech is not a crime! Long live freedom.” They stood outside a local court last Friday to voice their support for three online activists who’ve been sentenced for “slander.”
In June last year Fan Yanqiong, You Jingyou and Wu Huaying posted materials on the Internet to help Lin Xiuying. Lin is an illiterate woman who wants the death of her daughter to be investigated. She believes her daughter died in February 2008 after being gang raped by local thugs affiliated with the police. Local authorities say the 25-year-old woman died from an abnormal pregnancy instead.
Last Friday, the Mawei District Court in Fuzhou city convicted the three activists for “slander,” saying their actions have seriously affected the interest of the state. You’s attorney, Liu Xiaoyuan, told the Associated Press the verdict was “laughable,” and says it “infringes on the people's freedom of speech, which is the legal right of citizens.”
Fan’s daughter told NTD the person in the center of the case, Lin Xiuying, was not called as a witness. But when the defense attorneys raised the issue, the judge would not allow it to be discussed.
[Lin Jingyi, Daughter of Fan Yanqiong]:
“I’m not happy, I’m disappointed and upset. When the prosecutor would bring up an issue, Judge Wu would let him finish. But when the defendants or the attorneys brought up questions and doubts, the judged would tell them to stop talking, and to stop discussing that issue.”
Fan’s lawyer Li Fangping believes the verdict was not reached legally.
[Li Fangping, Defense Lawyer]:
“There was a lack of basic information and evidence. The verdict was very forced. I believe there are definitely factors outside the rule of law at play here.”
The case attracted the support from hundreds of netizens. They gathered outside the court last Friday amid heavy police presence.