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Student Returns to China, Goes on Trial for Tweets Sent in US

20-year-old gets 6 months for posts while he was at the University of Minnesota
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2020 4:30 PM CST

(Newser) – Stepping up its efforts against criticism of the government by its citizens abroad, as well as those at home, China has sentenced a student to prison over tweets he sent while attending college in the US. Luo Daiqing, 20, was arrested last July in his hometown of Wuhan after he returned from the University of Minnesota, Axios reports. November court documents said Luo "used his Twitter account to post more than 40 comments denigrating a national leader's image and indecent pictures." The tweets "created a negative social impact," the filing said. Luo was give a six-month term, with the time he had spent in detention to count toward the six months. Luo confessed to using a false identity to post altered pictures, the court said, and deleted them later. Human rights groups have suspected China of coercing confessions.

The account had retweeted images of Winnie the Pooh, which has been frowned upon since the character was compared to President Xi Jinping. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and Intelligence Committee member, demanded China release Luo. "The Chinese Communist Party has banned Twitter, so the only people who even saw these tweets were the goons charged with monitoring Chinese citizens while they're enjoying freedom here in the United States," Sasse said, per Time. Chinese students in the US are aware that they may be watched by their government. "This is what ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism looks like," Sasse said. (Read more China censorship stories.)

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