China’s ex-internet tsar jailed 14 years for bribery

China’s ex-Internet tsar who dealt with companies such as Apple and Facebook is sentenced to 14 years in jail for bribery

  • Lu Wei was the former head of China’s powerful internet regulator
  • He was jailed for 14 years on corruption charges at a court in Ningbo, Zhejiang 
  • Lu had confessed to accepting £3.6 million in bribes from 2002 to 2017
  • He took a hard line in demanding security checks on foreign tech products 
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China’s former head of internet censorship, who once held high-profile meetings with industry leaders such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges today. 

Lu Wei, who was charged with accepting bribes from 2002 to 2017, was also fined three million yuan (£338,000), said the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in eastern Zhejiang province in a statement.

Lu was one of numerous senior officials caught up in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-graft campaign and had already been expelled from the ruling Communist Party, which tightly controls the courts.

Lu Wei, who was charged with accepting bribes from 2002 to 2017, was also fined three million yuan (£338,000), said the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in eastern Zhejiang province

Chinese President Xi Jinping, centre, talks with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg as Lu Wei looks on during a gathering of CEOs and other executives at Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond, Washington on Sept 23, 2015. Lu was sentenced to 14 years in jail on Tuesday

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He accepted the verdict and will not appeal, the court added in a post on its official Twitter-like Weibo account. Lu had confessed to accepting 32 million yuan (£3.6 million) in bribes. 

Lu, who oversaw a tightening of online censorship during his tenure at the Cyberspace Administration of China, was a fierce defender of China’s policy of internet control.

In 2015, he explained that censorship was necessary to protect online freedoms, and that ‘freedom without order doesn’t exist’.

A year later, Lu stepped down from his post, and officials announced he was being investigated for suspected disciplinary violations in 2017.

Lu had confessed to accepting 32 million yuan (3.6 million) in bribes during a trial in October

Prosecutors said that Lu used his influence and position at various government organisations, including the Cyberspace Administration of China and Xinhua News Agency, to help others in exchange for benefits.

Social media users were blocked from commenting on certain posts on Lu’s sentencing, while some media outlets had scrubbed out select responses.

The former China internet tsar was once named among the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine.

He also met with several Silicon Valley executives, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who personally welcomed him to the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters in 2014.

Zuckerberg has made several attempts to woo China’s top brass, including Xi, as the US social networking site, along with Twitter and Google, remains blocked by the country’s ‘Great Firewall’ of online censorship. 

Ex-Internet czar Lu Wei poses for a photo with Apple CEO Tim Cook next to him during a gathering of executives at Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond, Washington in 2015

President Xi has carried out a wide-ranging crackdown on corruption, including targeting former president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei (pictured), whose whereabouts remain unknown

Lu is part of a growing group of Communist Party cadres caught in Xi’s anti-graft campaign, which critics say has served as a way to remove the president’s political enemies.

More than one million officials have been punished so far during Xi’s six-year tenure.

In October, Meng Hongwei, former Interpol president and vice minister of China’s public security bureau, was accused of accepting bribes, after he disappeared on a visit to China from France, where his wife and children live.

Last week, Meng’s wife urged French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss her husband’s case with Xi during his official visit to Paris.

In her written appeal, Grace Meng demanded that her husband be allowed to receive visits from his lawyers.

Former security head Zhou Yongkang – who appointed Meng vice security minister in 2004 – was also accused of bribery, as well as abuse of power and leaking state secrets. In 2015, he was sentenced to life in prison.

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