Shi Tao bigraphy, stories - Chinese journalist

Shi Tao : biography

July 25, 1968 -

Shi Tao ( born July 25, 1968) is a mainland Chinese journalist, writer and poet, who in 2005 was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years for releasing a document of the Communist Party to an overseas Chinese democracy site.

Yahoo! China was later discovered to have facilitated his arrest by providing his personal details to the Chinese government. Yahoo! was subsequently rebuked by a panel of the U.S. Congress, settled a lawsuit by Shi's family out of court, and pledged to reform its practices.

Following Shi's arrest, he won two major international journalism awards: the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom Award.

Awards and recognition

On October 18, 2005, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced that Shi was one of four winners of the 2005 CPJ International Press Freedom Awards. The Committee's website stated that he would be officially presented with the award when he is released from prison.

In March 2006, he was given the Vasyl Stus Award, named for the Ukrainian dissident and awarded for "talent and courage". On November 28, 2006, he was named the winner of the Golden Pen of Freedom Award of the World Association of Newspapers. The award was accepted on his behalf by his mother.{{cite web |url=http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-1322839511.html |title=It could have been me: Guido Fawkes on Shi Tao |author=Guido Fawkes |date=August 20, 2007 |work=The New Statesman |publisher= |accessdate=15 October 2012}} In 2009, Human Rights Watch awarded Shi a Hellman/Hammett grant, which recognizes "commitment to free expression" and "courage in the face of political persecution".

Arrest and imprisonment

On April 20, 2004, Shi received a document from Communist Party authorities which instructed journalists not to report on the upcoming fifteenth anniversary of the "June 4th event", the Tiananmen Square massacre. The document warned of infiltration and sabotage by foreigners and Falun Gong, and stated that media members must "correctly direct public opinion" and to "never release any opinions that are inconsistent with central policies". Shi used an Yahoo! Mail account to send an anonymous post to Chinese-language website based in New York that described the communication.

At the request of the Chinese government, Yahoo! provided records confirming that Shi's account had sent the e-mail. Shi was unofficially detained on 24 November 2004, and on December 14, he was officially arrested under state security laws on a charge of revealing state secrets. During Shi's trial, his lawyer contended that his punishment should be light as the disclosure of the information had not caused great harm to China. In June, he was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.

Shi's appeal to the Hunan Province High People's Court was rejected without a hearing. Shi's mother Gao Qinsheng filed a request for a review of the appeal on his behalf in August 2005. The appeal was unsuccessful, and Shi was meanwhile sent to Chishan Prison and assigned to forced labor. He began to suffer from respiratory problems, and in April 2006, also developed an ulcer and heart problems. In June 2007, he was given a medical transfer to Deshan Prison, where he worked in the machinery plant, and his health reportedly improved. According to Amnesty International, Shi's mother, brother and uncle were also harassed following his arrest, and his wife was repeatedly interrogated and pressured to divorce him, which she eventually did.

Shi's imprisonment was protested by several international NGOs. Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience and called for his immediate release. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China describes him as a political prisoner.Congressional-Executive Commission on China, . Reporters Without Borders launched a petition calling for his release, while the Committee to Protect Journalists described itself as "outraged" by the arrest. Human Rights Watch called him an imprisoned "human rights defender" and campaigned for his release.

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