Chinese court sentences HK publisher to 10 years in jail

HONG KONG Thu May 8, 2014 1:06am EDT

HONG KONG May 8 (Reuters) - A Chinese court has sentenced to 10 years in prison a Hong Kong publisher to stop him from putting out "subversive" books about China's leaders, his son told a newspaper.

Retired engineer-turned publisher Yiu Man-tin, 73, was found guilty and sentenced to jail for smuggling after failing to pay import duties on industrial paint he took to China from Hong Kong in October, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Yiu planned to release a book entitled about China's president called "China's Godfather Xi Jinping", by dissident Yu Jie, before he was detained on Oct. 27, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper said, citing family and friends.

Yiu's son, Edmond Yiu Yung-chin, told the newspaper he believed his father had been set up to prevent him from publishing subversive books.

The younger Yiu had in January written an open letter calling on President Xi to stop the "political persecution" of his father and honour Hong Kong's press freedom, according to the newspaper.

Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, enjoys considerable autonomy and broad freedom of speech as a capitalist hub but there is growing concern that Beijing could limit media freedoms.

Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen said Yiu brought in bottles of industrial paint from Hong Kong without paying import duties, the newspaper said.

"The sentence is too heavy," said Yiu's lawyer, Ding Xikui.

Self-exiled Yu Jie, the author of the book "China's Godfather Xi Jinping", found another publisher who released the book in March.

It is not available in mainland China, the publisher, Open Books, said. (Reporting by Donny Kwok and Alice Woodhouse; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Robert Birsel)