NEW YORK—Gao Yu’s conditional release from prison on medical grounds is a welcome relief from Chinese authorities’ decades-long persecution of her for her investigative journalism, PEN American Center said today.

Gao Yu, 71, was convicted in April 2015 of revealing state secrets, a charge often used against journalists in mainland China. She was sentenced to seven years in prison. A Beijing high court reduced that sentence to five years shortly before another court ruled that she will be allowed to serve her sentence outside of prison due to her serious illness. It is not yet clear whether Ms. Gao will be placed under house arrest or held at another location. The Chinese government claims that she 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 the overseas news outlet Mirror Media Group. The Group denies that it received the document from Gao.

“While we are relieved that Gao Yu has been released and hope that she will now be able to recuperate from the toll prison has taken on her health, the fact remains that she should never have been convicted of a crime,” said Katy Glenn Bass, deputy director of PEN’s Free Expression Programs. “Ms. Gao is a brave and determined journalist who has sought the truth at great personal cost, and her work should be commended, not punished.”

A tireless advocate for democracy and free speech in China, Gao has been repeatedly imprisoned by the government. She was detained for over a year after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. In 1993, Ms. Gao was again arrested on charges of leaking state secrets. She was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison and was released on medical parole in 1999. 


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,200 US writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide.


Katy Glenn Bass, PEN American Center: 646-779-4818,
Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications:, 646-779-4830