The appeal of imprisoned Chinese journalist and DW correspondent Gao Yu has been postponed once again - this time for three months, according to her lawyers. Meanwhile, Gao's health continues to deteriorate.
The news came as a surprise to Gao Yu. On Tuesday, October 13, she was told by her lawyer, Shang Baojun, that her appeal had been adjourned for the third time.
Gao signaled she would not accept the decision, Shang told DW, citing the imprisoned journalist as saying: "Are they planning to keep me in jail until I die?"
The 71-year-old DW correspondent has been suffering from heart problems for many years. A week ago she was feeling particularly ill, Shang said after his meeting with the critic of the Chinese government. Although she was given medication, the frequency of her cardiac problems has increased, according to Shang. Gao was hoping for further medical examinations.
In prison forever?
Talking to DW, Mo Shaoping, who is also Gao's lawyer, confirmed that the appeal had been postponed three times already - first for two months, then for one, and now for three months. The latest postponement was approved by China's highest court, the Supreme People's Court.
Mo called on the authorities to release Gao on humanitarian grounds given that the journalist over 70 years old and has severe health problems. "The accused should be granted bail if the court does not come to a legally-binding verdict within the statutory period," Mo said. "We believe that the delay of the appeals does not defer the statutory period. But the court sees it differently."
Mo fears that if the court continues to delay the appeal, his client might remain locked up forever. Gao's legal rights are thus being violated, Mo added.
'Betrayal of state secrets'
In April 2015, Gao was convicted to seven years in prison for "betraying state secrets." Before the verdict was announced, Gao had already been in prison for a year.
Initially, Gao had admitted to passing on government documents to foreign institutions. Her testimony was broadcast on state television. Later, the journalist said her confession had only come about due to threats to her son.
DW's Director General Peter Limbourg has repeatedly demanded a fair trial for Gao.