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Chinese cyber-dissident jailed

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A Chinese cyber-dissident has been jailed for five years for posting essays and reports - including the lyrics of a punk song - on the net.

Zhang Lin has been behind bars since January this year for posting material which authorities described as "contrary to the bases of the constitution".

A court in Benghu in Anhui province, west of Shanghai, jailed him last week for "violating national security" because he "jeopardised national unity and territorial sovereignty, spread lies and disturbed public order and social stability".

International media rights group Reports Without Borders said it was outraged at the decision and called for his immediate release.

"The Chinese judges were deaf to Zhang's plea of not guilty on the basis of the right to free expression because, in their view, expressing oneself on the internet is a crime that deserves five years in prison," said Reporters Without Borders.

News of this latest crackdown comes as China last month confirmed plans to establish "a long-term mechanism" to monitor internet cafes, which are visited by some 40m people a day.

Over the last couple of years China has closed thousands of net cafes amid fears that they can affect the "mental health of teenagers" while spreading "unhealthy online information". ®

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