[JURIST] Former Chinese newspaper editor Yu Huafeng [RSF profile] has been released early from prison after serving four years on corruption charges [JURIST report], Reporters without Borders said Saturday. Yu and his colleague Li Minying [ICPC profile] were both convicted [CPJ press release] in 2004 for embezzlement, bribery and corruption. Both men claimed the money in question was obtained legally and used for routine business transactions. Critics have said the editors' arrests appeared to be part of a campaign to silence the newspaper's criticism of the government and more than 2,000 Chinese journalists petitioned for their release in 2005. Yu's original eight-year sentence was reduced by one-year [JURSIT report] last year.
Yu is the third prominent journalist released early from prison this month. Reporters Without Borders [official website] has said the releases are China's response to intense international pressure ahead of the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing. Despite the pressure, China continues to arrest writers. On Tuesday, a Chinese court convicted dissident writer Lu Gengsong on subversion charges [JURIST report], sentencing him to four years in prison for writing essays exposing corruption within the Communist Party of China (CPC) [official backgrounder]. AP has more.