Chinese Internet Censor Tsar Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison
On Tuesday, China’s former top internet security chief, known as the “Father of the Great Firewall,” was sentenced to 14 years in jail on charges of corruption and bribery.
Lu Wei, 59, who was charged in July 2018, pleaded guilty to corruption charges in October.
Between 2002 and 2017, he accepted bribes of up to 32 million yuan (4.8 million USD) and is now being fined 3 million yuan ($445,000). The court has released that he “confessed his crimes and expressed repentance,” a statement that is technically grounds for leniency. Other high-profile politicians have been sentenced to life in prison for similar charges, such as Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai.
State news agency Xinhua stated that “Lu was found to have taken advantage of his positions to help certain organizations and personnel with Internet management, running enterprises, personal promotions and job transfers between 2002 and 2017.”
Lu was the deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, ever since its formation in 2014, before being removed in June 2016. His long career in media after working his way up Xinhua allowed him to be seen as the tsar of China’s internet censorship, with him taking a reporting job in the southern city of Guilin in the early 1990s before becoming the agency’s vice president from 2004 to 2011. Afterward, he served as vice mayor of Beijing from 2011 to 2013.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) released a statement in of 2017 stating that Lu had been detained for a “serious violation” of the rules. The CCDI expelled him from the party, dismissed him from public office, and named Lu as being a “shameless,” “extremely disloyal,” “double-faced man,” who was “deceiving the CCP Central Committee, being defiant of rules, acting wantonly, groundlessly criticizing the Central Committee’s policies, and trying to obstruct the central authority’s discipline inspections.”
The court has since confiscated all of the assets that he obtained illegally, including any interest obtained as well.
A fierce defender of China’s policy of censorship and internet control, Lu contended that censorship and tight rein was necessary to protect online freedom, arguing that “freedom without order doesn’t exist.”
Lu had met with several Silicon Valley executives, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — who personally welcomed him to the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters in 2014 — and Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook. Additionally, Lu was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2015 by TIME magazine.