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China Sentences Book Publisher to 10 Years

FILE - Book lovers read beneath poster promoting "Stange Leung Chun-ying," which depicts the new Hong Kong Chief Executive as the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, Hong Kong Book Fair, July 18, 2012.
A court in China has given a 10-year prison sentence to a Hong Kong publisher who had been working on a book critical of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Yao Wentian, who has printed several books that are banned in mainland China, was arrested in Shenzhen last year on charges of smuggling chemicals across the border. His arrest came as he was preparing to publish a book by exiled dissident writer Yu Jie titled "China’s Godfather: Xi Jinping.”

His son, Yao Yongzhan, told VOA's Mandarin service that his 73-year-old father's conviction is unjust.

"When I heard this news, of course I was shocked," he said. "My father is pursuing freedom. This is the price he has to pay for the country. I still hope he will be released as early as possible. We will appeal. I believe he is innocent."

Yao Wentian's lawyer, Ding Xikui, told VOA that his client, who is also known by the name Yiu Mantin, was only an accomplice and the sentence was too heavy. Critics of the Chinese government have accused authorities of targeting Yao because of his publishing activities.

Meanwhile, 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 crackdown.

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."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.