6 Convicted in China Falun Gong Case

Associated Press/December 24, 2001

Beijing -- Four Chinese academics, a university staffer and a graduate student convicted of spreading material on the Internet about the banned Falun Gong spiritual group were sentenced to prison terms of up to 12 years, a human rights organization said.

Four of those jailed were faculty members of the Chinese capital's elite Tsinghua University, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement dated Friday. It said they were sentenced Dec. 13 by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court.

A court official contacted by telephone said four Falun Gong followers were sentenced Dec. 13 but she didn't know their identities. She would give only her surname, Wang. Other officials of the court refused to give any information.

Tsinghua's administration and press offices refused to comment. The university is China's most prominent school for chemistry, physics and other sciences.

A small, devoted group of Falun Gong followers have stayed active in private despite an intense, often brutal crackdown launched in July, 1999, that has stripped the group of most of its public believers.

In the latest stage in its attack, the government has blamed Falun Gong for a series of recent slayings. State media claims that Falun Gong teachings have inspired some followers to kill their relatives.

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