In this daily article for the New York Times, I explain how one of China’s Internet pioneers, the blogger Huang Qi, received a 12-year sentence for leaking state secrets–a dubious claim that is mainly about shutting down citizen activists in China.

I interviewed Huang in this 2013 for the New York Review of Books daily blog, part of a now 30+ person series of interviews I’m done with citizen activists. Making this sentence especially galling is that Huang was always very optimistic that senior leaders were on board with his overall efforts to expose local malfeasance. 

Huang won many international awards and in recent years NGOs, foreign governments and the UN all lobbied for his release, especially given his fragile health. Given his precarious health, the sentence feels like a death penalty, similar to that given Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.

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