Falun Gong Practitioners Zhang Yibo and He Binggang Sentenced in Shanghai
He Binggang and his fiancée, Zhang Yibo, were sentenced to six and five years, respectively, on June 12, 2023. The couple’s conviction stems from their alleged involvement in developing and maintaining the firewall circumvention software oGate, according to the Minghui website and acquaintances of the couple in the United States. Their joint verdict on file with the Falun Dafa Information Center also indicates that their faith in Falun Gong was a contributing factor in their cases rulings.
The couple was arrested on October 9, 2021, during a mass arrest of Falun Gong practitioners thought to be involved in the oGate project. The practitioners were apprehended after another practitioner, who had been detained months earlier, was coerced into revealing information under duress. The authorities had been monitoring the internet usage of those involved for months before carrying out the arrests. During the operation, the practitioners’ homes were raided, and their computers and other equipment were confiscated.
He and Zhang, both residents of Shanghai, were abducted by authorities from the Xianxia Road Police Station and Changning State Security, their homes were ransacked, and their property was seized as evidence.
He Binggang was unlawfully held in the Changning District Detention Center in Shanghai. The authorities denied his lawyers’ requests for legal interviews, citing national security concerns. On June 10, 2022, both individuals’ arrests were formally approved by the Fengxian District Court.
After nearly two years in detention, He and Zhang were both sentenced on June 12, 2023 by the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate Court. According to Rights Protection Network, He appealed his sentence, but the court rejected it. He is currently serving his six-year sentence in Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison, and Zhang is serving her five-year sentence in Shanghai Women’s Prison.
He, who became quadriplegic from abuse during previous sentences, is reportedly in poor condition. According to his lawyer, his paralysis has worsened, leaving him completely unable to walk. He is also suffering from severe dizziness, headaches, insomnia, and even incontinence.
He and Zhang’s Past Persecution
These recents arrests mark the latest episodes of prolonged persecution faced by He Binggang and Zhang Yibo. He, 46, has already served two prior sentences for practicing Falun Gong. In 2000, he was forced to suspend his studies at Fudan University when he was detained and later sentenced to six years in prison at Shanghai Tilanqiao Prison. Following his release in 2007, he started his own technology company before being arrested again in 2010. During his second detention, he suffered a spinal cord compression due to abuse and became paralyzed in his arms and legs. Despite his paralysis, he was sentenced to five more years in prison in April 2011.
Zhang Yibo, who worked as a business manager for a foreign company, a prior one-and-a-half-year prison sentence after she was arrested alongside her mother, who received a three-and-a-half-year sentence.
Status of Others Arrested
The current status of other individuals arrested in connection with the oGate project varies. Guo Xuhong from Liaoning province, who was released on bail in December 2021 due to poor health caused by abuse, received a three-year prison sentence and a 20,000 yuan fine from the Liaozhong District Court in February 2023, according to the Minghui website.
Zhang Bing from Hunan Province was initially released after being held for over ten days. However, Minghui reports indicate that she was arrested again six months later, and her current whereabouts remain unknown.
In Hebei province, Ms. Liu Peng and her daughter, Wang Bingcheng, are presently detained at Shijiazhuang City’s Second Detention Center, notorious for its severe torture of Falun Gong practitioners. The Qiaoxi District Court approved their arrest on April 13, 2023.
No recent reports are available on the situation of Mr. Zhou Li from Hebei Province.