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Freedom of speech has its boundaries: Chinese daily

Freedom of speech

Beijing:Freedom of speech has its boundaries, including on the internet, a state-run Chinese daily said on Wednesday following a court verdict on a Chinese human rights lawyer.

An editorial “Verdict on lawyer highlights dignity of law” in the Global Times on Wedensday said that the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court on Tuesday delivered its verdict on Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.

Pu was sentenced to three years in prison with a three-year reprieve for “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, Pu has admitted the charges, showed regret, accepted the court’s decision, and will not appeal.

The editorial said: “The sentence is generally in line with many legal experts’ predictions. On the one hand, Pu’s remarks on the Internet caused harm to the judicial order, and cracking down on such behavior is a duty of the law enforcement organs. On the other hand, after repeated investigations and evidence collection, Pu’s illegal acts have been narrowed down to several of his Weibo posts.”

“His sentence is therefore not too severe. A three-year suspended prison sentence can be seen as a result of a comprehensive consideration of each legal factor.”

The daily said that the court has stuck to the judicial principle in the final verdict, “which is of great importance in an era where the West is keen on intervening in China’s domestic affairs”.

“Pu might lose his qualification to practice law following the verdict. But he has to pay the price for his illegal behaviour. The trial will have a long-term effect in many aspects, and become a landmark case for further establishment of the rule of law.”

It went on to say that the “freedom of speech has its boundaries, including on the internet. We hope the lines can become increasingly clear after all these renowned cases over the past few years”.

It observed: “Pu’s trial has demonstrated to the authorities that, in the current circumstances, accusing someone of disrupting the public order by making illegal remarks will lead to uncertain public opinion. The West has used such judicial cases in China as key political and ideological weapons against China”.