April 8, 2011

His Excellency Hu Jintao

President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Wu Aiying Buzhang
Minister of Justice
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Beijingshi 100020
People’s Republic of China

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our extreme alarm regarding the 10-year sentence handed down to dissident writer and activist Liu Xianbin.

According to our information, Liu Xianbin, a Sichuan-based freelance writer and activist, was tried by the Suining Intermediate People’s Court on March 25, 2011. After a two-hour trial in which he was not allowed a full defense, the court sentenced Liu to 10 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” The verdict, which was read after a short adjournment, was reportedly based on forced testimony of Liu’s 13-year-old daughter and a number of lines from articles he published on overseas Chinese-language web sites from August 2009 to June 2010. In addition to the 10-year prison sentence, Liu was sentenced to an additional two years and four months’ deprivation of political rights for recidivism. He is currently being held at the Suining City Detention Center.

Liu Xianbin was detained on June 28, 2010, on suspicion of “inciting subversion.” Fourteen police officers from the Suining City Public Security Bureau interrogated him and searched his home, confiscating his hard drives, USB devices, bank card, and six notices from his editors regarding remuneration for several articles he published on overseas web sites. He was formally arrested on July 5, 2010, and indicted on November 11, 2010.

Liu Xianbin previously served nine years of a 13-year prison sentence from 1999 to 2008 for his part in organizing the Sichuan branch of the outlawed China Democratic Party. He was released early, on November 6, 2008, but still faced three years’ deprivation of political rights. It was during this period that Liu was active in publishing articles on overseas electronic journals, and he became one of the first signatories of Charter 08.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that the harsh sentence imposed on Liu Xianbin is part of the harshest crackdown on freedom of expression in China in years in which dozens of writers, journalists, and human rights defenders have been detained in clear violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 35 of China’s own constitution. We therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Xianbin and all those detained solely for the peaceful expression of their views, and for an end to the crackdown on freedom of expression in China.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                  
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee      

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Zhang Yesui
Ambassador of the PRC to the U.S.
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the U.S.
3505 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 495 2138

Ma Zhenchuan Juzhang
Director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau
Beijingshi Gong’anju
9 Dongdajie, Qianmen
Beijingshi 100740
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 106 524 2927
Meng Jianzhu
Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China
14 Dongchang’anjie
Beijingshi 100741
People’s Republic of China

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