21 October 2016
Gao Yu denies leaking a Communist Party document to a US-based website. Photo: Reuters
Gao Yu denies leaking a Communist Party document to a US-based website. Photo: Reuters

China releases journalist jailed for leaking state secrets

A Chinese court released on medical parole an elderly journalist jailed for leaking a Communist Party document to foreign media, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a hearing Thursday, the Beijing high court took two years off the seven-year sentence Gao Yu, 71, was handed by a trial court earlier this year.

That court convicted her of leaking state secrets, for providing an internal party memo to an overseas Chinese news site.

The memo, known as Document No. 9, described ideological threats to the party, including an independent judiciary and freedom of the press.

A lawyer for Gao, Shang Baojun, said the high court upheld the original conviction and didn’t provide a reason for reducing her sentence.

However, Shang and the official Xinhua news agency said Gao was separately granted medical release, allowing her to serve the rest of her sentence outside prison, including in a hospital or while receiving care at home.

Human rights groups say Gao suffers from high blood pressure and heart disease.

The court previously rejected appeals from her lawyers for her release on medical grounds, .

Gao has denied she provided any such material to Mingjing, the overseas Chinese website named in her case.

The founder of Mirror Media Group, the New York-based firm that owns the website, has also denied receiving any such document from her.

Before her trial and while in detention, Gao admitted to the charge and apologized in a confession aired on state media.

But she later retracted it, saying it had been made under duress after police detained her son.

China and the European Union are due to hold a session of a human rights dialogue in Beijing Monday.

The court may have granted the sentence reduction as a gesture ahead of that meeting, a western diplomat said.

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