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China Detains Well-Known Journalist Ahead of Sensitive Anniversary


FILE - Gao Yu, one of China's most prominent journalists.
China has detained a well-known journalist on charges of "leaking state secrets," the latest in Beijing's crackdown on dissent ahead of the sensitive anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The official Xinhua news agency said Thursday that Gao Yu was detained on April 24 on suspicion of illegally obtaining a copy of an unspecified government document and passing it to overseas media.

The 70-year-old was shown on Chinese state television confessing, saying what she had done was "extremely wrong."

"I believe what I have done has violated the law and has harmed the interests of my country. What I have done is extremely wrong. I will earnestly and sincerely take a lesson from this, and I admit my guilt," said Gao.

Gao's political activism and journalism has landed her in jail before. In 1993, she received a jail sentence of six years on similar state secret charges.

She is the former deputy editor of the Economics Weekly and has written on topics such as the Communist Party's campaign against free speech.

Gao was also a supporter of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, which in 1989 was crushed by Chinese troops. Estimates of those killed range from several hundred to several thousand people.

As they do every year, Chinese authorities have begun rounding up government critics ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the massacre.

Prominent rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and at least four others (Liu Di, Xu Yonyu, Hao Jian and Hu Shigen) were detained this week after they attended a Beijing seminar to commemorate the crackdown.

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said it is "deeply concerned" at the reported detentions, and called for the dissidents to be freed immediately.

It has been almost 25 years since Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved in to crush the student-led demonstration. The crackdown triggered worldwide condemnation.

China still considers the incident a "counter-revolutionary rebellion" and has never admitted any wrongdoing in its handling of the uprising. It has never disclosed an official death toll or other key details on the crackdown, which is not discussed in state media.

Government censors also work hard to erase any reference to the incident in the country's very popular social media outlets.
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