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No word of cyber-dissident who has been on hunger strike for three weeks

(Sept. 24, 2005)Voicing concern about the lack of any word since 8 September from imprisoned cyber-dissident Zhang Lin, who has been on hunger strike for the past three weeks, Reporters Without Borders today urged Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to intercede to get his conviction reviewed. Zhang is serving a five-year sentence for endangering national security.

"We call on the Chinese authorities to move at once to release this famous cyber-dissident for humanitarian reasons," the press freedom organisation said.

Zhang, who has been detained since 29 January, began the hunger strike on 1 September to protest against the mistreatment and long hours of forced labour to which he was being subjected in Bengbu prison, in Anhui province. (boxun.com)

He told his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, he intended to continue the hunger strike "for 100 days." He was taken to hospital after one week, but was returned to prison when he refused the prescribed treatment.

No one has had any contact with him since 8 September, when his lawyer was able to speak to him briefly. His wife, Fang Cao, has been trying to visit him in order to persuade him to call off the hunger strike. But the prison authorities told her on 21 September there was no possibility of communicating with him because "all detainees must be cut off from the exterior."

The mother of two children and short of money since his arrest, Fang continues to write him a letter every two days, but has not received any answer.

Zhang was convicted by a Bengbu court on 29 July for giving an interview to a foreign radio station and for posting articles and essays (including the words of a punk song) on the Internet. The court found that their content was "contrary to the bases of the constitution" and "endangered national security." (boxun.com)

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