November 20, 2009
A Chinese court has sentenced the founder of an influential Tibetan website to 15 years in prison. It comes after a closed-door trial on November 12th.
Below is an article published by NDTV:
The court found 39-year-old Kunchok Tsephel guilty of so-called “divulging state secrets.” It’s a vague charge Chinese authorities often use to punish dissidents.
The charges probably relate to content posted on his website, Chodme—a site that seeks to promote Tibetan culture. He had posted information on the site about last year’s protests in Tibet, according to the International Campaign for Tibet—or ICT.
ICT said his family saw him for the first time in nearly nine months last week. They were called to the Intermediate People’s Court of Gannan Prefecture—in Gansu Province—to hear the jail sentence.
Kunchock Tsephel had been detained since February 26, when police ransacked his home and whisked him away in the early hours of the morning, according to ICT. His friends are said to be worried for his health after nine months of detention and interrogation. One of them told ICT that he’d been denied access to a lawyer.
The heavy prison sentence came just days before U.S. President Obama’s visit to China. Obama has called on leader Hu Jintao to improve the Communist Party's treatment of ethnic minorities.