A Chinese court has handed a suspended jail sentence to an 81-year-old writer on charges of "illegal business." Tie Liu had published articles critical of China's propaganda chief.
Huang Zerong, who uses the pen name Tie Liu, received a suspended 2.5-year jail sentence on Wednesday, after pleading guilty to a charge of "illegal business activity" in a court in Chengdu city.
The case was in relation to charges filed last year by Beijing police over Huang's free self-published magazine, called "Small Scars from the Past."
The magazine published essays criticizing Liu Yunshan, a member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee who oversees propaganda.
In an essay published on Boxun.com, an US-based Chinese news website which covers political news and alleged human rights abuses committed in China, Huang accused Liu last August of "never having done a single good thing" for the country and its people.
Huang is one of China's oldest dissidents to be formally charged. He spent 23 years in a labor camp for criticizing former leader Mao Zedong and the Communist party. His history as a critic of the party dates back to the 1950s.
Huang's lawyer said on Wednesday that the writer was also fined 30,000 yuan ($4,800; 4,220 euros).
"Clearly this is a compromise outcome," Liu Xiaoyuan told AP. "He was held for five months for nothing."
Liu said Huang, who is in poor health, would be released on bail later on Wednesday.
The literary free-speech advocacy group PEN (Poets, Essayists, Novelists) American Center called Huang's arrest and detention "an outrageous expression of Beijing's 65-year campaign against free expression, prioritizing the image of the Party over the rights of the people."
The latest index from International Federation of Journalists says that Chinese authorities are becoming less tolerant of criticism, and are waging a campaign to suppress dissent and tighten control of the media and the Internet.
"Since Xi Jinping became the President of China in 2013, the situation has consistently deteriorated," the IJF wrote in its January report.
jr/msh (AP, Reuters)