China Denies Gao Yu Permission to Leave For Germany

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Gao Yu-Hong Kong

Demonstrators hold placards showing portraits of Chinese journalist Gao Yu during a protest in support of her outside the China liaison office in Hong Kong, April 17, 2015.

Authorities in the Chinese capital have effectively denied permission to veteran journalist Gao Yu to go to Germany for medical treatment, even though she is being allowed to serve her sentence outside of jail.

Gao, whose seven-year jail term for “leaking state secrets overseas” was cut on appeal to five years by the Beijing High People’s Courtlast November, has suffered heart attacks in detention.

She also suffers from high blood pressure, and has signs of a growth on a lymph node that could be malignant, her lawyers said in her applications for medical parole before her release.

Since leaving detention, Gao has been granted a visa to travel to Germany, but the Chinese authorities have denied her permission to leave the country, her lawyer Shang Baojun told RFA.

Government fails to keep promise

He said the government has also left her with no income.

“Since Gao Yu was released for medical reasons a few months ago, the authorities have always said that they would pay her medical bills and retirement pension,” Shang said. “But they haven’t made good on these promises so far.”

He said Gao lacks any basic retirement income or medical insurance, and her health is in “a worrying state.”

“The German government is very concerned about this, and the German chancellor and the German ambassador to China went to a lot of trouble to get this visa for her to go to Germany for treatment,” Shang said.

“Except that now, the Chinese government won’t allow it.”

Shang said Gao had applied several times for an exit permit from her local police station, but had received no reply from them.

“We don’t even know who is in charge of this decision,” he said. “We call on the relevant authorities to approve Gao’s trip to Germany to seek medical treatment.”

According to Germany-based journalist Su Yutong, Gao has also been turned away from every hospital in China where she has sought treatment since her release from detention.

Gao was initially sentenced to a seven-year jail term by the Beijing No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court in April 2015 for “leaking state secrets overseas,” but denied breaking Chinese law, saying that a televised “confession” on which the prosecution based its case was obtained under duress.

Health deteriorates

Gao’s lawyers and relatives repeatedly warned of her deteriorating health during a prolonged stay in a police-run Beijing jail.

Gao had been held in the jail since her initial detention in April 2014, as she planned to mark the 26th anniversary of 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement on Tiananmen Square, that culminated in a military crackdown by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on the night of June 3-4, 1989.

During her November 2014 trial, Gao Yu was accused of leaking party policy Document No. 9 to a Hong Kong-based media outlet.

Document No. 9 lists “seven taboos” to be avoided in public debate, online and in China’s schools and universities that include democracy, freedom of the press, judicial independence and criticism of the party’s historical record.

Her defense team argued that the document was already available online, and that the media organization in question could easily have downloaded it elsewhere.

Gao’s sentencing sparked an outcry among rights groups and fellow activists, who said there was no evidence that she broke Chinese law.

Reported by Gao Shan for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.