New York City, March 31, 2011—PEN American Center condemned the 10-year sentence handed to writer and PEN member Liu Xianbin last week on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” calling the conviction for his writings “another blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression in China.” It is the longest sentence given on the charge after Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo’s 11-year term.

Liu Xianbin, a 41-year-old freelance writer, was convicted by the Suining Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan Province on the morning of March 25, 2011, after a two-hour trial in which the writer was not permitted a full defense. None of the arguments his lawyers presented were accepted, and when Liu attempted to make a statement in his own defense, the judge interrupted him repeatedly, leaving him to proclaim “I am innocent! I protest this trial!” The verdict, which was read after a short adjournment, and was reportedly based on forced testimony of Liu’s 13-year-old daughter and a number of lines from several of his articles published on overseas online Chinese language journals and news web sites, one of which spoke of the future of civil society following the sentencing of Liu Xiaobo. 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.

“Once again the Chinese government has shown contempt for the fundamental human rights of one of its own citizens, for international treaties to which it is a party, and for its own constitution,” said Kwame Anthony Appiah, president of PEN American Center. “And they know that what they are doing is not even in their own interest. After all, the premier has acknowledged that, unless the ordinary citizen is free to speak about politics, they cannot combat the corruption that threatens the legitimacy of the regime.”

Liu was detained on June 28, 2010, on suspicion of inciting subversion after police interrogated him and searched his home. Fourteen police officers from the Suining City Public Security Bureau confiscated hard drives, USB devices, his 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 his case was handed to the Procuratorate on July 21.

Liu was first imprisoned in 1992 on charges of “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement” for his involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, and was later sentenced to 13 years in prison for “subversion of state power” for his writing and his participation in the banned Chinese Democracy 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.

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of PEN International, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. The Freedom to Write Program of PEN American Center, which works to protect the freedom of the written word wherever it is imperiled, has been working to end China’s imprisonment, harassment, and surveillance of writers and journalists and curtail Internet censorship and other restrictions on the freedom to write in that country. For more information, please visit

Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660 ext. 105