By Michael Evans.
A former Chongqing official has been released from a labor camp last week after serving 15 months for online messages criticizing the “red songs” campaign of now-disgraced Party chief Bo Xilai.
Ren Jianyu, a 25 year-old village official, was sentenced last year to two years of “re-education through labor,” a sentence that can be imposed by local authorities without going through the courts.
According to the Daily Telegraph:
Police in Chongqing had initially tried to convict Ren of subversion using a T-shirt he owned scrawled with “Give me liberty, or give me death” as evidence.
But Chongqing prosecutors threw out the case and [Ren] was instead sentenced without trial by police to two years of labour in August last year.
Most experts agree that Ren’s release, which has gained widespread attention in the Chinese media, is best interpreted as part of the wider campaign against Bo Xilai.
The news is unlikely to signal a coming reform of the much-criticized re-education through labor system, or impact the fate of others jailed for “subversive” online messages.
Read Ren’s interview with Tom Philips of The Daily Telegraph here.