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China sentences #MeToo activist Sophia Huang Xueqin to 5 years in prison

June 14 (UPI) -- A Chinese court sentenced #MeToo journalist and activist Sophia Huang Xueqin to five years in prison on Friday for "subversion against the state" after holding her trial privately, her supporters said on Friday.

Huang openly talked about the misogyny and sexism she endured in a state-run newsroom and specialized in breaking stories about sexual abuse survivors in China. She had been in custody since 2021 when she was arrested with labor rights activist Wang Jianbing at a Guangzhou airport.

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Huang's backers said the journalist was held for periods in solitary confinement before her trial, which started in September 2023. Chinese officials accused her of inciting "participants' dissatisfaction with Chinese state power under the pretext of discussing social issues."

According to Amnesty International, Wang received 3 years and six months in prison. Sarah Brooks, the organization's China director, said the sentence is another example of China's attempt to bury women's voices who speak out against sexual violence.

"Tomorrow marks exactly 1,000 days since Sophia Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing were arrested," Brooks said in a statement. "These convictions will prolong their deeply unjust detention and have a further chilling effect on human rights social advocacy in a country where activists face increasing state crackdowns."

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Brooks said their intimidation has been extended to family and friends, who have been questioned by local authorities and had their homes searched and electronic devices taken away from them.

"In reality, [Huang and Wang] have committed no actual crime," Brooks said. "Instead, the Chinese government has fabricated excuses to deem their work a threat, and to target them for educating themselves and others about social justice issues such as women's dignity and workers' rights."

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