A blogger who documented protests in China has maintained his innocence during an appeal of his four-year sentence.
Lu Yuyu was convicted in August by a court in the city of Dali in Yunnan province for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” He stated at the time that he intended to appeal.
Lu founded a blog in 2013 called “Not News,” which tracked mass demonstrations in China. Lu worked with his girlfriend Li Tingyu to collect information about incidents including grassroots demonstrations arising from land issues and labour strikes.
The appeal hearing took place over about two and a half hours on Wednesday morning.
Speaking to Radio Free Asia, Wang Zongyue, a member of Lu’s legal team, told the US-backed radio station that Lu made a statement maintaining his innocence before the court.
“He made a statement that he was not guilty, [and] that if they were to pronounce him guilty, they could sentence him to 30,000 years or so,” Wang said. He said his client argued that, following the logic of his sentence, he should be jailed longer if the court finds him guilty in the second trial.
“He said that before [in the original sentence] they gave him four years for publishing eight messages – he said that he actually sent out about 70,000 messages, if they were to sentence him it should be for about 30,000 years – he said the sentence was too short.”
The court said it would release its judgment on a later date.
According to RFA, the prosecution used eight incidents to make its case that Lu had fabricated information and disseminated it on Sina and Twitter websites, although in some cases local governments had already released information concerning the incidents. The defence questioned the legality of the prosecution’s methods of “remotely examining” evidence.
Lu’s lawyer Xiao Yunyang told RFA that Lu’s mental state was “very good.” The broadcaster also reported that a citizen who attempted to attend the hearing was visited by police, who did not allow her to leave her home.
Lu and Li were detained last year in June. Li was tried in secret in April and returned home to her family afterwards, but no official announcement of her release has been issued, according to NGO China Human Rights Defenders. According to Wang, Lu’s lawyer, Lu said she was given a suspended sentence.
In November 2016, Lu Yuyu and Li Tingyu were awarded the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – TV5 Monde Press Freedom Prize in the category for citizen journalists.