Another Birthday in Prison

Saturday marks the 41st birthday of Chinese journalist and poet Shi Tao. It will be the fifth birthday he celebrates in prison. He is serving serving a 10-year prison term for sending an e-mail summarizing a memo advising journalists on how to handle the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananman Square crackdown.

Chinese authorities have not lessened their restrictions on Internet freedom since Shi Tao was arrested on November 24, 2004. This was particularly apparent on the days immediately before and after June 4 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananman Square crackdown. The government blocked foreign news Web sites like CNN and the BBC and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook in anticipation of the day. Controls over other media outlets, including newspapers and magazines, have also intensified in recent years.

While prison conditions have improved slightly for Shi Tao in the past two years, freedom may still be as much as five years away. An appeal to review Shi Tao’s case was rejected last year. His mother’s request for medical parole for Shi Tao–because of a stomach condition that has worsened as a result of a poor prison diet–was also rejected. Don’t let Shi Tao spend any more birthdays in jail!

Troy Davis Case Featured on CNN


Despite the Supreme Court’s summer hiatus, the Troy Davis case continues to make news.  Tuesday night on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, reporter Gary Tuchman covered the case.  His report includes interviews with some of the witnesses who have recanted their trial testimony, and well as one of the jurors who now says she would find Troy Davis not guilty.   Tuchman also interviews Officer Mark MacPhail’s widow, but was unsuccessful in scoring an interview with the alternative suspect, Sylvester “Red” Coles.

The US Supreme Court reconvenes on September 29, and may make a decision on his case at that time, but meanwhile the new District Attorney in Chatham County, Georgia, can still reopen the investigation into the case.