Activist gets 3-year suspended sentence

By Cao Yin (China Daily)     Updated : 2016-08-06

Gou Hongguo, an associate of the leader of an illegal church, was sentenced on Friday by a court in Tianjin to three years in prison with a three-year reprieve for subverting State power.

Gou had received subversion training overseas, and he financed others to conduct anti-government protests in China, the Tianjin No 2 Intermediate People's Court said in its verdict.

Gou's trial was the fourth at the court this week. Three others defendants in the subversion case had received sentences up to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Gou, 54, a native of Chengde, Hebei province, pleaded guilty. "I accept the judgment and greatly regret my behavior," he said.

"The trial has made me realize more about how much damage I brought to the country and my family. I will not appeal to a higher court."

The court found that Gou had been influenced by anti-China forces and began spreading subversive ideas after he met Hu Shigen, the leader of an illegal organization, in 2013.

Since 2014, Gou would periodically go abroad to participate in forums against China's political system, and he received training on how to use hot social issues to stir up public sentiment and encourage petitioners to protest the government, according to the verdict.

After returning home, Gou reported what he learned to Hu and provided money to Hu, Beijing lawyer Zhou Shifeng and another man named Zhai Yanmin to organize subversive activities and spread related subversive ideas, the verdict said.

"Gou also became a participant in the activities damaging to national security," said Cai Shuying, the judge in the trial, taking an incident in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, as example.

On Dec 3, 2013, Gou went to Suzhou for a demolition case involving two deaths. He made use of the case and posted anti-government pictures online, aiming to stir up public sentiment, the court said.

Gou confessed his guilt and said in his final statement:" I acted that way because I had lost a business lawsuit and could not understand why. I found online statements provided by Hu and Zhou, and then I was influenced by their thoughts."

Cai said that through such behavior, the defendant had committed the crime of subversion, but he agreed to give a suspended sentence as Gou showed repentance.

Provided Gou behaves well during the three-year reprieve period, he will not serve the three-year prison sentence.

Earlier this week, Zhai, Hu and Zhou, had been sentenced for the same charge.

All four trials were opened to the public through the court's micro-blogging service.