Plainclothes police ransacked 72-year-old journalist Gao Yu’s garden and assaulted her son in another cruel and crude attack on press freedom in China, PEN America said today.

On March 31, 2016, more than 20 plainclothes police and workmen stormed into the garden of Gao Yu’s home in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, claiming the garden and its adjacent wall were illegal. The group proceeded to destroy the garden, beating and detaining her son in the process. The shock and stress exacerbated Gao’s heart condition, endangering her already fragile health.

Gao Yu was originally sentenced to seven years in jail in April 2015 for “leaking state secrets overseas” after being detained since April 2014. She was granted conditional release on November 30, 2015, due to her poor health and is serving the rest of her five-year sentence under house arrest. Chinese authorities claim Gao leaked “Document No. 9,” a directive that outlines an ideological offensive against advocates of human rights, constitutional democracy, and other ideas that are considered subversive by the Communist Party, to a Hong-Kong-based paper. The paper denies that it received the document from Gao.

“Chinese authorities’ continual harassment of Gao Yu, a 72-year-old journalist, has reached new heights,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America. “Not content with subjecting her to prison and house arrest on spurious charges, they are now attacking her family and property and further threatening her health, part of a growing pattern of vicious and vindictive attacks on dissidents and their families.”  

Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: +1 646-779-4830, sedkins@pen.org