Translation: Court Judgment in Wang Aizhong Political Tweeting Case
- I have translated the crime that Wang Aizhong was convicted of (寻衅滋事罪) as "disturbing the peace." Other translators use "picking quarrels and provoking trouble."
- The court did not specify what Wang Aizhong shared on social media that disturbed the peace. Here are his last three tweets that he posted prior to his detention on May 28:
- On May 26, Wang retweeted a post by the New York Times linking to the Chinese language version of an article titled "Biden Orders Intelligence Inquiry Into Origins of Virus."
- On May 26, Wang posted "Someone logged into my telegram account. Their attacks on private communication software and surveillance is getting more and more insane.
- On May 24, Wang quote tweeted a post by the Wall Street Journal to the Chinese language version of an article titled "Belarus Faces EU Flight Ban for Grounding Ryanair Plane With Dissident." Wang added "Some folks really have guts. Certain other countries could stand to learn something from them."
People's Court of Tianhe District, Guangzhou, Guangdong
(2022) Yue 0106 Criminal First Instance No. 377
The public prosecution agency was the People's Procuratorate of Tianhe District
Defendant Wang Aizhong, male, born on December 13, 1976, Han nationality, university degree, household registration in Guangzhou City. On May 28, 2021, he was taken into custody in connection with this case. He was taken into criminal detention the following day, and he was formally arrested on July 6 of the same year. He is currently being held in custody at the Tianhe District Detention Center in Guangzhou.
Defense counsel Ge Wenxiu is a lawyer at the Guangdong Lucheng Dingbang Law Firm.
Defense counsel He Weimin is a lawyer of Guangdong Jingguo Law Firm.
In the Sui Tian Procuratorate Criminal Prosecution (2022) No. Z10 Indictment the People's Procuratorate of Tianhe District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, charged defendant Wang Aizhong with committing the crime of disturbing the peace, and on January 27, 2022 it filed a public prosecution with this Court. This Court accepted the case and formed a collegial panel in accordance with the law, convened pretrial conferences, and tried this case with hearing in open court. The People's Procuratorate of Tianhe District, Guangzhou, Guangdong assigned procurators Huang Haifeng, Liu Qiwei, He Qian to appear in court in support of the indictment. Defendant Wang Aizhong and his defense counsel He Wenxiu were in court to participate in the proceedings. Hearings in this case have now concluded.
The public prosecution agency charged: Since January 2019, defendant Wang Aizhong did, in the eastern part of the Tianhe District in the city where he lives, repeatedly use "wall-climbing" methods on the Internet to repost false reports from foreign media, and added his own statements with fake information, and distributed them on his WeChat official account and on foreign social software, thereby causing a disturbance and misleading the public. On May 28, 2021, defendant Wang Aizhong was apprehended by investigators at his residence and brought to justice.
In order to prove the aforementioned facts, the public prosecution agency produced or read in court the Decision to Establish a Case, search and seizure materials, remote network inspection work records, screenshots of social software content, the testimony of witness Wang Mounan and others, the statement of the defendant, and other evidence. The public prosecution agency believed that defendant Wang Aizhong fabricated and disseminated fake information, creating a disturbance and causing severe chaos in public venue order, and he should bear criminal liability for the offense of disturbing the peace. It requested this Court pass sentence in accordance with the law.
Defendant Wang Aizhong's defense counsel proffered: Wang Aizhong's statements on overseas online platforms did not exceed the boundaries stipulated by law. The public prosecution agency failed to prove that Wang Aizhong's actions caused severe chaos in the cyberspace, and Wang Aizhong did not constitute the crime of disturbing the peace.
It was ascertained at trial: Since January 2019, defendant Wang Aizhong did on several occasions post and repost a large volume of fake information on domestic and foreign Internet platforms, creating an offensive social influence and severe chaos in public order.
The aforementioned facts have been confirmed by the following evidence presented and examined in court during the trial, and are determined by this Court:
1. The Police Report Acceptance Registration Form, the Decision to Establish a Case, and the apprehension process confirmed the circumstances of the case establishment and apprehension of defendant Wang Aizhong.
The search and seizure materials confirmed: When the police apprehended defendant Wang Aizhong, they seized an Apple mobile phone from him; in the search of Wang Aizhong's residence [OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL], they found an ASUS laptop, a Microsoft tablet, and an Apple mobile phone. All of the above items were seized.
3. Screenshots of defendant Wang Aizhong’s Twitter and WeChat account interfaces, and WeChat information provided by Tencent confirmed: Wang Aizhong’s Twitter account is “王爱忠@wangaizhong”; the name of the WeChat account is "A Wang Aizhong", the nickname is "Wang Aizhong D", and the username is WeChat is "wangaizhong2023".
Defendant Wang Aizhong signed and affirmed this.
4. The remote network inspection work records confirmed: The investigative agency remotely fixed and extracted the content of the tweets posted by the Twitter account "王爱忠@wangaizhong."
5. The screenshots of Twitter and Wechat Moments confirmed that defendant Wang Aizhong posted a large amount of fake information on social software, causing severe chaos in public order.
Defendant Wang Aizhong carried out signing and affirming some of the screenshots.
6. Defendant Wang Aizhong's household registration information and criminal record investigation materials confirmed the identity of defendant Wang Aizhong. On February 23, 2013, he was sentenced to administrative detention for participating in an illegal assembly; on May 28, 2014, he was criminally detained for publishing rumors on the Internet, and was later released on bail.
7. The testimonies of witnesses Wang Doenan, Chen Doeyun, and Wan Doeming confirmed: Wang Aizhong's WeChat account is "wangaizhong2023" and his Twitter account is "王aizhong@wangaizhong."
Witness Chen Doeyun carried out signing and affirming Wang Aizhong's WeChat account, Twitter account, and screenshots of his WeChat Moments interface. Witness Wan Doeming identified Wang Aizhong and carried out signing and affirming the relevant screenshots of his Moments content.
8. The statement of defendant Wang Aizhong: I posted about some high profile social incidents on WeChat Moments and Twitter, which came from self-media such as Weibo. The WeChat account I use is qingshan1995, and I have also used wangaizhong2023 and wangaizhong, and the associated mobile phone number is [INTENTIONALLY OMITTED]. My Twitter account is @wangaizhong, and my nickname is "王爱中." I have posted relevant information on WeChat Moments and Twitter, and the account is only used by myself, and others do not know my account and password. I am posting relevant information using my mobile phone.
Regarding the opinion proffered by defendant Wang Aizhong and the defense counsel that he is not guilty, based on an investigation, Wang Aizhong used the aforementioned WeChat and Twitter accounts to disseminate fake information relating to State policies and major domestic events on the Internet, creating a disturbance and misleading the public, and the relevant information was widely read And reposted, with dangerous consequences that created severe chaos in public order.
The opinion proffered by Wang Aizhong and his defense counsel that he is not guilty is not established and is not adopted by this Court.
This Court finds that defendant Wang Aizhong intentionally fabricated fake information, or knowingly disseminated fake information on the Internet, causing disturbances, and creating severe chaos in public order. His actions constitute the crime of disturbing the peace. With respect to the public prosecution agency's charge, the facts were clear and the evidence was reliable and copious, and the charged offense is established and is adopted by this Court. After Wang Aizhong was brought to justice he made truthful statements regarding the primary criminal facts, and may be given a lighter punishment in accordance with the law. In accordance with Articles 293(1)(iv), 67(3), and 64 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:
1. Defendant Wang Aizhong committed the crime of disturbing the peace, and is sentenced to a fixed term imprisonment of three years (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 May 28, 2021 to May 27, 2024).
2. The seized mobile phones used as tools in the crime shall be confiscated (the aforementioned items are currently seized by the Tianhe District Branch of the Public Security Bureau of Guangzhou, and the bureau will carry this out).
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 Guangzhou. A written appeal should be submitted with one original and two copies of the appeal brief.
Chief Adjudicator Liang Xiaowen
Adjudicator Zhang Kai
Adjudicator Zhu Lu
May 18, 2023
Clerks Chen Min and Mai Yingjie
2.搜查及扣押材料证实:民警抓获被告人王爱忠时从其身上查获1部苹果手机;在王爱忠住处[OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]房搜查发现1部华硕笔记本电脑、1台微软平板电脑和1部苹果手机。上述物品均予以扣押。
书记员 陈敏 麦英杰