A Chinese court on Thursday reduced the seven-year jail sentence given to a 71-year-old Chinese journalist convicted of “leaking state secrets” by two years, her lawyer said after an appeal in a case condemned by free speech advocates.
Dozens of police officers blocked access to the Beijing high court, where the decision on Gao Yu’s appeal was announced.
The court reduced her seven year term to five, her attorney Mo Shaoping told AFP.
“We think she is innocent. The sentence is just lighter, it’s a slight improvement,” he added.
State security prevented foreign journalists and about 10 diplomats from standing near the court, and wrestled to the ground a woman who shouted slogans in support of Gao.
The veteran reporter has suffered heart problems during her detention, and Mo added there was a “possibility” she could be released on medical parole in the future.
A former winner of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Prize, Gao has been a consistent critic of the ruling Communist party?s authoritarian policies.
A court convicted Gao in April of leaking a 2013 directive by the Communist party named “Document number 9” to a Hong Kong media outlet.
The document warned of the “dangers” of multiparty democracy, independent media, universal definitions of human rights and criticism of the party’s historical record, according to copies widely circulated online.
The hearing comes as China’s president, Xi Jinping, oversees a crackdown on dissent that has seen hundreds of lawyers, activists and academics detained in recent years, with dozens jailed.