Qin Zhihui was sentenced to three years in prison with no appeal at the Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing today on charges of rumormongering, according to Caixin. Qin was arrested last year for “fabricating and spreading rumors online” about several celebrities including TV host Yang Lan and the cultural icon Lei Feng.
The 30-year-old Hunan province native, known as “Qinhuohuo” online, was sentenced to two years for defamation and one year and six months for the crime of affray. The court decided to lessen the total sentence to three years for the two offenses.
Qin was detained by police last August while working for a “black PR” company that was accused of “deliberately fabricating rumors over the internet“.
“I just wanted people to see what I had posted and make netizens discuss them,” he told the court when asked why he spread rumors. He said he knew his microblog posts would damage the celebrities’ reputations.
Qin was the first to appear in court on rumormongering charges since the Ministry of Public Security, propagators of truth, vowed to end rumor-spreading once and for all with a new policy stating that any “inaccurate” post “clicked and viewed more than 500 times, or reposted 500 times” could result in three years in jail for its author.
A 16-year-old middle school student was the first to be arrested for violating the policy, but was released a few days later thanks to the withdrawal of his criminal case.