Chinese political cartoonist Jiang Yefei has been sentenced to six and a half years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegally crossing a national border.”
A court in Chongqing tried the 50-year-old in secret after he was sent back to China from Thailand in 2015 as he awaited resettlement as a refugee. He had been held incommunicado ever since and was sentenced on July 13.
No official information on the trial was given to family members and reports were only released by state-owned media China News Service.
According to free expression NGO Reporters Without Borders, Jiang was repatriated by Thai authorities three years ago on the same flight as detained Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai and human rights activist Dong Guangping. Dong was also sentenced to three and a half years in the same trial as Jiang.
The cartoonist had been granted official refugee status by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Bangkok and was preparing to move to Canada at the time of his arrest.
Jiang was known for publishing a series of cartoons satirising Chinese political figures on the US-based website Boxun. He was also an outspoken critic of the response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake from the Chinese government.
Jiang appeared on state broadcaster Chinese Central Television on November 2015 showing visible signs of physical abuse and confessing to “human trafficking” charges, RSF said.
— CHRD人权捍卫者 (@CHRDnet) June 3, 2016
Head of RSF East Asia Cédric Alviani said: “By persecuting a political cartoonist, Xi Jinping’s regime shows an unprecedented level of intolerance against independent voices.”
“It is deplorable that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha [was] allowed to hand him over to China, while he explicitly knew what would happen to him.”