South China Morning Post’s Verna Yu reports fears for the health of 71-year-old journalist Gao Yu, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in April for leaking state secrets to foreign media. In an earlier profile of Gao for SCMP, Yu noted that she suffers from heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic back pain, and skin allergies aggravated by two previous terms in prison.
Gao, 71 – jailed for seven years in April after being convicted of the charge of leaking state secrets – had been given only Chinese medicine to deal with each attack while in police custody awaiting the outcome of her appeal, but had not been given regular treatment for her heart condition, said Gao Wei, who visited her on Monday.
“She was strong and spirited, but she was thin and suffering from heart pain,” he said.
[…] Gao’s lawyer Shang Baojun also confirmed that she was suffering from heart pain.
Gao has appealed against her sentence and the outcome should be known later this month, he said.
Shang said he had received new evidence from Mingjing founder Ho Pin to prove that Gao was innocent and would be submitting the new information to the court next week. [Source]
Ho is the editor to whom Gao was accused of leaking “Document 9,” an internal memo outlining seven purported perils to Party rule. His new evidence seems unlikely to sway the court, which refused to consider his written testimony in the original trial.
Withholding medical care adds to the danger that Gao will not survive her current sentence. Human Rights Watch’s Sophie Richardson highlighted this possibility on Twitter, asking “does Beijing want another Cao Shunli?” Cao died in hospital in March last year after earlier being denied treatment for tuberculosis, liver disease, and other conditions. Other prisoners and detainees have also been deprived of proper care. Legal activist Chen Guangcheng did not received treatment for severe gastroenteritis while in prison and subsequent house arrest, for example; rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and philosophy professor Xu Youyu were both refused their usual medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol (in Pu’s case), and diabetes while detained for commemorating the anniversary of the June 4th crackdown in 2014; and feminist activist Wu Rongrong was denied medical attention during her five-week detention this spring, despite experiencing liver pain and spitting blood.