Group: Founder of Tibetan Web site gets 15 years

(AP) – The founder of a Tibetan literary Web site was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets, an overseas monitoring group said Tuesday.

Kunchok Tsephel, 39, was convicted and sentenced Nov. 12 after a closed-door trial at the Intermediate People’s Court of Gannan prefecture in southwestern Gansu province, according to reports from Tibet received by Tibetan exiles, said the International Campaign for Tibet, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

Some of the charges are believed to be related to content posted on his influential Web site, Chodme, or Butter-Lamp, which promotes Tibetan culture, and also for passing on information about last year’s anti-government protests.

His family, who did not know where he had been held for nine months, was summoned last Thursday to hear the verdict, the ICT group said.

Kunchok Tsephel had founded his Web site on Tibetan art and literature in 2005 along with a fellow poet. Authorities have shut it down several times over the past few years.

Tibetan resentment against Chinese rule has been fueled by religious restrictions and competition for resources with migrants from the Han Chinese majority. Similar grievances fed ethnic rioting this year in the neighboring heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang that left nearly 200 dead.

In the wake of the Tibet protests, the Chinese government installed a heavy security presence in the region, arresting thousands in connection with the unrest.

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