CNN: Chinese Webmaster Collapses During Subversion Trial

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Huang Qi

Huang Qi With His Son

February 13, 2001
Web posted at: 7:58 PM EST (0058 GMT)
By Rose Tang Writer

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HONG KONG, China -- A Chinese webmaster collapsed in court forcing judges to suspend his trial for subversion in the country's first ever prosecution case against an Internet content provider.

Businessman Huang Qi, 36, is facing charges of "instigation to subvert state power" for allegedly using his website to publish articles on pro-democracy activities, Falun Gong, and the Xinjiang independence movement.

Huang's wife Zeng Li told that he fainted about 20 minutes after the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court in the capital of Sichuan started the hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

Zeng, who was not allowed to attend the trial, said she saw Huang being carried out by two policemen.

"He looked very pale and weak and didn't speak. He only nodded after I yelled out 'as long as you stay alive, there must be hope,'" she said.

She said police refused to take Huang to a hospital.

Just before the hearing started Tuesday, a judge told Zeng and a dozen relatives to stay away from the courtroom, citing the hearing would involve "state secrets", she said.

Journalists and Western diplomats were also barred from the trial. The hearing was postponed until further notice.

Zeng said policemen and other inmates have beaten up Huang several times during the eight months in custody since he was arrested last June. Huang told his lawyers that he had lost one tooth and suffered other injuries.

The Chengdu Number One Detention Center, where Huang is kept, refused to comment.

A policeman at the Chengdu Public Security Bureau told that he was unaware of Huang's case, but he said police were "strictly forbidden" to torture suspects or prisoners.

"There have been some individual cases of policemen beating up detainees, but they and their superiors were punished or had to write self-criticism," he said.

Huang is the first webmaster to be charged with subversion in China. He and Zeng set up the "June 4 Tianwang Missing Persons" website in 1999 to help people find their loved ones

The couple opened up an Internet portal, 'Scream', for web users to offer stories and opinions relating to numerous alleged corruption cases which were not covered by the official mainstream media.

Page views soared as web users flocked to the site to discuss taboo topics such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Police closed down the website and arrested Huang in June last year, one day before the 11th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.

China has been tightening cyber control since the Internet has been growing drastically in recent years.

Lin Hai, a Shanghai businessman, was jailed in 1999 for two years for providing 30,000 Chinese email addresses to a U.S.-based pro-democracy Internet newsletter.

In the same year in Hebei province, Qi Yanchen, a member of the China Development Union, a non-government environmental group, was sentenced for four years in jail for posting his book Collapse of China on the web.

Chinese webmaster on trial

Huang Qi's website
Sichuan government