Sun May 19, 2002

BEIJING - A Chinese court has sentenced four Falun Gong [practitioners] to prison terms ranging from seven to 16 years for [using] a cable television network and broadcasting information about the banned group, state media said.

[í ]

Tapping into TV stations has been one tactic used this year by Falun Gong in its fight against a three-year government-ordered crackdown [í ].

Aside from Chongqing, Falun Gong followers have also [used] TV networks in at least three other cities -- Harbin, Changchun and Anshan, all in China's northeast, Chinese authorities say. Followers also post fliers and use the Internet to publicize the group's views.

[í ]

Falun Gong [practitioners] say this is a peaceful meditation movement that builds health and happiness. They say hundreds of [practitioners] have died as a result of police abuse and torture during the crackdown.

The four Falun Gong [practitioners] in Chongqing were sentenced Friday by the city's No.1 Intermediate People's Court, Xinhua said in report late Friday night.

Jin Wei drew the longest sentence -- 16 years imprisonment [í ]

Li Xiangdong was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and two others, Shu Jianqiu and Li Wei, were given prison terms of nine and seven years, respectively.

A fifth [practitioner] involved in the broadcast, Liu Chunshu, has died of illness, the report said without giving details.