The trial against the imprisoned Chinese journalist Gao Yu, who has written for DW, faces further delays. Her lawyer, Shang Baojun, told DW that she is in poor health after he was able to visit her on Tuesday, March 24.
The 70-year-old is suffering from high blood pressure, heart problems and further ailments. "She should be released from custody on humanitarian grounds," Shang Baojun said, adding that a petition to that effect had been made last week.
China's Supreme Court approved an extension of the trial proceedings for an additional three months, the lawyer said. He received notice of that move on March 20. Gao Yu, who was unaware of the extension, was informed about the decision during the lawyer's visit. He said his client "has accepted the fact that the court will not speed up the case." He also noted that the Supreme Court of the People's Republic of China "can theoretically prolong the trial for an additional three months as often as it sees fit."
The trial against Gao Yu began on September 22, 2014. "According to Chinese law, the accused can be released, or its nature of imprisonment can be changed, if the courts are not able to reach a judgment within a specified period. In our opinion, this is now the case in Gao Yu's trial," Shang Baojun told DW.
Gao Yu has already been put in prison twice on account of her criticism of China's political system. She has been in custody again since April 24, 2014. Chinese state media reported that Gao had passed a "highly confidential document" to a "contact outside of the country." It remains unclear which document the journalist is accused of having handed over.