Gao Yu speaks at an International PEN conference in Hong Kong, Feb. 5, 2007.
A court in the Chinese capital will announce a verdict in the case of outspoken veteran journalist Gao Yu on Friday after repeatedly delaying judgment following her trial for “revealing state secrets” last November, Gao’s lawyer said.
Gao, 70, stood trial in Beijing last November for “leaking state secrets overseas,” charges she has denied in court, arguing that a televised “confession” she gave was obtained under duress.
“The judge in charge of the case called me … and said that the verdict would be given on Friday morning at 9 a.m.,” Gao’s lawyer Shang Baojun told RFA.
“I asked if the relatives could be present, and he said that the courtroom is pretty small, so they won’t be able to accommodate very many people, so we should try to make sure not too many come,” Shang said.
Shang said Gao’s brother Gao Wei and her son Zhao Ming would attend the hearing at the Beijing No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court.
Shang said the court had applied twice for a three-month extension to its legal deliberation period of three months.
He said it was hard to gauge whether the delay was a good thing for Gao.
“It’s very hard to predict what the outcome will be on Friday, and I don’t want to do that,” Shang said, adding that he plans to meet with Gao one more time on Thursday before the judgment hearing.
Gao, a veteran journalist and acerbic political commentator, was charged with “leaking state secrets overseas” after being detained in secret on April 24, and formally arrested on May 30.
She later appeared on the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s state television channel CCTV, where she was shown with her face blurred onscreen, apparently confessing to obtaining a highly confidential document and sending it to an overseas website.
But her defense team argued that much of the evidence submitted by the prosecution was inadmissible, while others have argued that party policy documents can’t be regarded as state secrets.
Jail term of two to 10 years
Rights lawyer Mo Shaoping, who is also one of Gao’s defense attorneys, said she could face a jail term of anything from one or two years up to 10 years, depending on how the court interprets the “seriousness” of her offense.
Mo said: “The outcome that would indicate genuine progress in China’s judicial system would be for the court to decide, after hearing the opinions of her lawyers, that Gao is not guilty.”
Acquittals are unusual in the Chinese judicial system, particularly in high profile political cases.
A relative of Gao’s who declined to be named also called for her acquittal and release.
“I have been told by the lawyer I can attend the hearing, but whether or not they’ll actually let me in, we’ll have to wait and see,” the relative said.
“I hope they will find her not guilty and release her, but I don’t know what they will decide.”
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