An 81-year-old Chinese dissident writer who published articles critical of the country’s propaganda chief has been spared jail in what his lawyer called a “compromise outcome”.
Huang Zerong, who uses the pen name Tieliu, was given a 30-month suspended sentence and fined 30,000 yuan (US$4,590).
Huang had been charged with running an illegal business, which was related to a self-published magazine he distributed for free, according to The Guardian.
A lawyer for Huang said the writer had denied the charge.
A charge of causing trouble lodged at the time of Huang’s detention in September was dropped before the trial.
“Clearly, this is a compromise outcome,” said Liu Xiaoyuan, Huang’s lawyer. “He was held for five months for nothing.”
Huang was taken from his home in Beijing after publishing articles criticizing propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, a member of the ruling Communist party’s politburo standing committee, for tightening controls over the news media.
Huang’s magazine, Small Scars from the Past, also featured articles chronicling the experiences of people persecuted during political campaigns by the party.
Huang is one of the oldest dissidents to have been formally charged.
His history as a critic of the party dates from the 1950s when he was labeled a “rightist” by the state and was sentenced to 23 years in a labor camp.
Huang’s caregiver, Huang Jing, was given a one-year suspended sentence and fined 5,000 yuan. It was not clear why the caregiver was detained along with the writer.
Liu was not at the trial and Huang was represented instead by a court-appointed lawyer.
“The charges didn’t stand up and the court lacked jurisdiction,” Liu said.
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