Government Jails Chinese Reporter Who Wrote About Official Corruption

A Chinese journalist found guilty of extortion after writing articles about official corruption was sentenced Thursday to one year in prison, his wife and lawyer said.

Yang Xiaoqing, a reporter for the state-run China Industrial Economy News, was sentenced at the Longhui No. 1 People's Court in Hunan province, his lawyer, Zhang Xingshui said.

Yang's wife, Gong Jie, said she would appeal the decision immediately.

"It's a terrible thing," Gong said. "He has not committed a single crime. He has not done one thing wrong. To sentence him to even one day of prison is the real crime."

She said hundreds of onlookers swarmed the court and blocked police cars to protest the sentence. Some carried signs reading: "Corrupt officials should not bully reporters and the people!"

Telephones rang unanswered at the Hunan court Thursday evening.

Yang was detained Jan. 22 after being accused by authorities of concocting reports in order to extort the equivalent of up to $100,000 from officials in Longhui county, human rights groups have said. Yang pleaded innocent and has insisted the evidence against him was fabricated.

Gong has said Yang was targeted after writing articles accusing Yang Jianxin, a local Communist Party official, of embezzling state assets.

Yang, who is not related to the reporter, since has moved to a new post at a government advisory body in nearby Shaoyang city. He has denied framing Yang Xiaoqing.

Reporters at China's state-run media pursuing sensitive stories often face violence and harassment, sometimes from local authorities, and often lose their jobs or are detained under unspecified charges.