Translation: Judgment in Case of US University Student Jailed for Twitter Postings
People's Court of Wuchang District, Wuhan, Hebei
(2019) E 0160 Criminal First Instance No. 10871
The public prosecution agency was the People's Procuratorate of Wuchang District, Wuhan, Hubei.
Defendant Luo Daiqing, male, born [INTENTIONALLY DELETED], 1999, Han ethnicity, studying in Humanities Department of the University of Minnesota in the United States, household registration in the Honghan District of Wuhan, currently residing in the Wuchang District of Wuhan. On July 12, 2019 he was summoned to appear on suspicion of the crime of disturbing the peace, and on the same day it was decided he would subjected to 10 days in administrative custody. On July 22, 2019, he was taken into criminal detention by the Public Security Bureau of Wuchang District, Wuhan, and on August 29 of the same year he was arrested. He is currently being held in custody in the Wuchang District Detention Center.
Defense counsel Hu Jibin is a lawyer at the Hubei Lingfeng Law Firm.
In the Chang Procuratorate First Division Criminal Indictment (2019) No. 127 indictment the People's Procuratorate of Wuchang District, Wuhan, Hubei charged defendant Luo Daiqing with committing the crime of disturbing the peace, and October 11, 2019 filed a public prosecution with this Court. This Court utilized ordinary procedures in accordance with the law, and formed a collegial panel and on October 29, 2019 tried this case in closed court. The People's Procuratorate of Wuchang District, Wuhan, Hubei assigned Procurator Chen Honglin to appear in court in support of the public prosecution, and defendant Luo Daiqing and his defense counsel Hu Jibin appeared in court to participate in the proceedings. The collegial panel has held deliberations on this case, and the trial has now concluded.
The People's Procuratorate of Wuchang District, Wuhan, Hubei charged that in September and October of 2018, while studying at the University of Minnesota in the United States, defendant Luo Daiqing posted 40 statements and inappropriate memes that ridiculed the image of State leaders through his Twitter account on a foreign website in order to attract the attention of others. This drew the attention of others and created a pernicious social influence. On July 12, 2019, defendant Luo Daiqing was taken into custody and brought to justice by public security agencies.
The aforementioned facts have been substantiated by relevant evidence submitted by the public prosecution agency including documentary evidence, witness testimony, audio-visual materials, and statements of the defendant. Based on these it alleges defendant Luo Daiqing utilized information networks to post fake images and statements that ridiculed the nation's image, disrupted social management order, that the circumstances were severe, that he violated the provisions Article 293 of the "Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China," and should bear criminal liability for the crime of disturbing the peace.
Defendant Luo Daiqing and his defense counsel did not object to any of the criminal facts and the crime charged by the public prosecution agency. In court Luo Daiqing expressed remorse for his offenses and asked to be shown leniency. Defense counsel believes that Luo Daiqing is a first offender who is ordinarily well behaved, that once he became involved in the case he made truthful statements and plead guilty. They asked that he be shown leniency during sentencing.
It was ascertained at trial that while studying at the University of Minnesota in the United States in September and October of 2018, defendant Luo Daiqing posted 40 statements and inappropriate memes that ridiculed the image of State leaders through his Twitter account on a foreign website in order to attract the attention of others. This drew the attention of others and created a pernicious social influence. On July 12, 2019, defendant Luo Daiqing was taken into custody and brought to justice by public security agencies.
The evidence proving the aforementioned facts includes:
1. The process of how the defendant came into police custody produced by the Shuiguohu Police Precinct of the Public Security Bureau of Wuchang District, Wuhan, and the explanation of circumstances produced by the Public Security Bureau of Xuzhou's Cyber Security Detachment confirmed the process by which Luo Daiqing was taken into custody: On October 20, 2018, while Ma Doe was assisting in an investigation at the Xuzhou Police Precinct, they reported to the police that someone had stolen their identity to register on Twitter and other foreign Internet social media platforms, and had posted over 50 statements and inappropriate memes that ridiculed the nation's image and that were drawing unwanted attention and creating a pernicious social influence. An investigation found that the suspect was Luo Daiqing, and based on certain leads, on July 12, 2019, the Public Security Bureau of Wuchang District, Wuhan detained Luo Daiqing at Hongshan Side Road, Xiaohongshan Western District, Wuchang District, who stated that he undertook the aforementioned actions in order to attract online attention. The case was considered solved.
The Public Security Bureau of Xuzhou's Cyber Security Detachment confirmed that said detachment conducted online evidence retrieval with respect to the "mianq12" Twitter account in this case, and recorded it in fixed form on a disc.
2. The Public Security Bureau of Xuzhou's online collection work record and volume of evidence collected from the Internet information content.
3. The written testimony of witness Ma Doe confirmed that someone used the Internet in their name to post images and statements that insulted the nation's image: I am an anime author, and owing to some online interpersonal contradictions I got involved in many flame wars with online trolls, and I offended many people and was attacked by them. I had registered the nickname "Eastern Footbath" in many places online, and had also registered it on Twitter, but I had never used it, and had lost that account. None of the images that insulted State leaders that were posted online under the names Ma Doe and "Footbath" were posted by me. I was framed.
4. Defendant Luo Daiqing's household registration, identification information and statement confirmed the circumstances of the crimes he committed: I am student in the Humanities Department of the University of Minnesota in the United States. I returned to China in May 2019 and have not yet graduated. I registered three Twitter accounts; "Soft Green," "Ma Doe," and "The Footbath." I logged into Twitter in the United State, and in order to attract the attention of followers I reposted images created by others that smeared some State leaders. I do not know Ma Doe, I saw many denounce him in a Telegram group, and I pretended to be him in order to go ahead and do this. I used the reputation of "Ma Doe" to post certain derogatory information, and it increased my followers (attracted attention) quite a bit. I was posting continuously from September to October 2018, adding some of my own writings. Afterwards I felt that it was not appropriate to post inappropriate information in the name of someone else, and it was linked to politics and did not really mean anything to me, so I deleted all of that content.
5. The thoughts and understandings set down in writing by Luo Daiqing confirmed the detailed circumstances of the crimes he committed and that his attitude was one of regret.
6. The Public Security Bureau of Wuchang District, Wuhan Administrative Punishment Decision confirmed that on July 13, 2019 it was decided to subject Luo Daiqing to 10 days of administrative detention for his actions in the aforementioned case.
All the foregoing evidence was submitted by public prosecution agencies, was presented and examined in court, defendant Luo Daiqing and his defense counsel raised no objections, and it was affirmed in court. The evidence is reliable, copious, and consistent, and this Court deems the facts charged by the public prosecution agency with respect to defendant Luo Daiqing committing the crime of disturbing the peace to be determinative.
This Court finds that defendant Luo Daiqing utilized information networks to promulgate false information that ridiculed the State's image (the original text of the document phrased it thus, not as ridiculing the image of State leaders), this caused a disturbance and attracted attention. It disrupted social management order, the circumstances were pernicious, and his actions constitute the commission of the crime of disturbing the peace. The facts in this case charged by the public prosecution agency are clear and the evidence is reliable and copious, the was applied correctly, the offense charged is established and is upheld by this Court.
After becoming involved in the case Luo Daiqing was able to honestly confess to the crime and recognize his offense and show a relatively penitent attitude, so he may be shown leniency.
This Court does not accept the relevant opinions of defense counsel. This Court accepts as appropriate the opinion of the public prosecution agency recommending a sentence of between four months detention and a fixed term imprisonment of 10 months. In accordance with the provisions of Articles 293(1) and 67(3) of the "Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China" and Article 5 of the "Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Several Issues Concerning the Specific Application of Law in the Handling of Defamation Through Information Networks and Other Criminal Cases," the judgment is as follows:
Defendant Luo Daiqing committed the crime of disturbing the peace and is sentenced to a fixed term imprisonment of six months.
(The prison term is to be calculated starting on the day the judgment is executed, and each day in custody prior to the execution of the judgment shall count as one day of the prison term, that is from July 12, 2019 to January 11, 2020.)
If any party does not accept this judgment, they may within 10 days after the second day after receiving this written judgment bring an appeal through this Court or directly to the Intermediate People's Court of Wuhan, Hubei. A written appeal should be submitted with one original and three copies of the appeal brief,
Chief Adjudicator Wei Xiaoxia
Adjudicator Cheng Ping
People's Assessor Bao Jianping
November 5, 2019
Clerk Zhang Yanglan