Retired police officer sentenced to twelve years for defamation and other crimes

First uncovered by The Paper in April, Li Yinsuo (李银锁), a 75-year-old retired police officer was sentenced to twelve years in November 2020 for picking quarrels and provoking trouble, defamation, extortion, and fraud.

The Yangquan Mining District Intermediate People Court convicted Li of fabricating and filing reports of false corruption accusations against various agencies in the Shanxi Yangquan police force since 2014. The court also found Li spread false information online about individual police officers, which caused harassment and harmed their reputations.

The court also determined that an escalated financial dispute resulting from a traffic accident involving Li’s daughter was evidence of extortion. Li’s daughter was the victim of an accident, and the alleged extortion came when Li and his family asked for more money from the person who caused the accident.

Citing coverage from 2001 by Xinhua and taking a slightly sympathetic tone, The Paper reported that Li was a veteran and former police officer who received numerous commendations and honors before retiring and was known for exposing corruption in the police force. At the time, Xinhua even called Li a thorn in the side of the corrupt.

Li was sentenced to six years for picking quarrels and provoking trouble, two years for defamation, four and a half years for extortion, and eight months for fraud. The combined sentence is 12 years with a fine of RMB 17,000 Yuan. Given Li’s advanced age, the sentence is unusually harsh.

Appeal rejected for citizen journalist who exposed corruption

In similar circumstances, another grassroots anti-corruption warrior once hailed in the media was also convicted and sentenced.

Li Xinde (李新德) [no relation to Li Yinsuo], founder of China Public Opinion Monitor Net—a “sunshine” website dedicated to grassroots opinions of government conduct— was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for illegal business operation by the Jiangsu Pizhou Intermediate People’s Court on January 7, 2021.

Li gained a reputation as a “grassroots opinion supervisor” in 2018 after exposing several cases involving local government misconduct and potential corruption on his website as well as on public accounts on social media platforms such as WeChat. Li ran afoul of the Jiangsu Xinyi Police Bureau when he posted articles on an illegal fundraising case, accusing the local police of illegally seizing a defendant’s assets.

The court convicted Li of fabricating those stories and taking money from the defendant’s sister. Li’s son Li Chao was tried and sentenced to one year for the same crime. The younger Li was released in October 2020 as he had already spent a year in a detention center.

Li Xinde’s appeal to the Xuzhou Intermediate Court was rejected in April. His sentence expires on October 9, 2021.

Former party-school teacher released

Well-known public critic Zi Su (子肃) was released in April after completing his four-year sentence for subversion.

Zi Su, sometimes referred as Su X in Chinese media, was an economic lecturer at the Yunnan Provincial Party School. However, Zi never shied away from letting his criticisms of the government be known, and he often shared opinion of social issues in the classroom. He received numerous warnings from the provincial government and police summons before being forced into early retirement in 2014.

Zi’s case gained public attention when the Ministry of State Security revealed several “significant cases” through CCTV and Global Times for the 2020 National Security Education Day propaganda.

Zi was accused of planning a violent rebellion against the CCP and calling for a party election which would replace Xi Jinping with Hu Deping, the eldest son of Hu Yaobang. He was detained for inciting subversion in 2016 but was indicted then convicted for subversion by Chendu Intermediate Court in 2019.

Zi reportedly was allowed to return to Kunming.