BEIJING — Jailed Chinese journalist Gao Yu has been diagnosed with heart problems and a request for bail on medical grounds is pending, her lawyer said Thursday.
Gao, 71, who has been sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of leaking a document detailing the Communist Party leadership’s resolve to aggressively target civil society groups that operate outside of party control, along with press freedoms seen as threats to the party’s monopoly on power.
Lawyer Mo Shaoping said Gao was taken to Beijing’s Anzhe Hospital last week and diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, heart problems and high blood pressure. He said Gao was given medication to control her condition and returned to jail.
The lawyer last week filed an application for bail on medical grounds on Gao’s behalf, which if granted would allow her to return home at least temporarily. Gao’s conviction, handed down in April, remains on appeal.
“At this stage, it is hard to predict whether the application will be approved or not,” Mo said. The Beijing police spokesman’s office did not immediately respond to questions about Gao.
Medical complaints are common among imprisoned Chinese, often from the generally poor nutrition and health care available in the institutions. Prominent activist Cao Shunli died in March after five months of pre-trial detention, reportedly after medical treatment was denied.
The sentence against Gao for leaking state secrets to an overseas media group appeared to confirm the long-rumored authenticity of the leaked document, a strategy paper known as Document No. 9 that argued for aggressive curbs on the spread of Western democracy, universal values, civil society and press freedom.
Gao had denied the charges, which could have carried a life sentence.
Overseas human rights groups have called for Gao’s release. Amnesty International said it considers her “a prisoner of conscience, solely imprisoned for challenging the views of the government.”