NEW YORK—Prominent Chinese journalist and activist Gao Yu’s conviction today on spurious charges delivers another blow to free expression and press freedom in China, PEN American Center said today. 

Gao Yu, 71, was accused of revealing state secrets, a charge often used against journalists in mainland China. She has been sentenced to seven years in prison. The Chinese government alleges 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. She was detained in Beijing on April 24, 2014. 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.

“The arrest and persecution of 71-year old Gao Yu was part of an effort to intimidate and silence journalists and activists ahead of the 25th anniversary of China’s crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, an anniversary the government preferred go unnoticed,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN American Center. “Gao Yu has been a thorn in their side from Tiananmen until now, and this verdict is a reminder that, rather than a thing of the past, the harshness that grabbed headlines back then is alive and well under President Xi Jinping.”


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck.


Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director:, +1 646-779-4810
Katy Glenn Bass, Free Expression Programs:, +1 646-779-4818