Norway, 20 May 2014
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Chinese Embassy in Oslo, Norway
Tuengen Alle 2B, Vinderen 0244
I write to you as a member of Norwegian PEN, the local section of PEN International, the writer`s and free expression organisation with 140 centres in over 100 countries around the world, including China and many other countries in your region.
Publisher Yao Wentian, aged 73, who has been held in Shenzhen since 27 October 2013, was convicted by the Shenzhen Intermediate People`s Court on the charge of “smuggling prohibited items” and sentenced to a 10-year jail term. At the time of his arrest he was preparing to publish a book by US-based dissident writer Yu Jie. PEN believes the trial and conviction to be politically motivated.
PEN is expressing serious concern for the heavy sentencing and health of Yao Wentian, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release if, as feared, he is being persecuted for his professional activities through politically-motivated criminal charges.
PEN is also protesting the renewed crackdown on government critics, and would like to remind Your Excellency, President Xi, of your commitment to tackle official corruption.
PEN would also like to remind Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.
Ms Trine Kleven
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee