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Thu., Nov. 19, 1998 at: Lon 5:42 p.m. Pra 6:42 p.m. NY 12:42 p.m. HK 12:42 a.m.

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Activists Urge Tiananmen Review; Closed Trial for E-Mail Dissident

BEIJING, Nov. 19, 1998 -- (Agence France Presse) A group of dissidents has urged the government to review its stance on the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, a Hong Kong-based rights group said Wednesday.

The Information Center of Human Rights and Democracy in China said in a statement that 162 dissidents signed a petition asking for a review to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the massacre next year.

The exact number killed during the June 4, 1989, army crackdown is unknown but witnesses estimate fatalities in the hundreds.

The petition was initiated by China Human Rights Observer, a fax newsletter published by Wuhan-based dissident Qin Yongmin. The signatures were collected within two days.

"Chinese people cannot tolerate the view of some powerful people that this movement of millions of participants was an anti-revolutionary riot," the petition read.

"They request the authorities to release June 4 political prisoners and review the incident," it added.

Meanwhile, authorities in Shanghai are to hold a closed trial next week for Shanghai-based businessman Lin Hai, who is charged with providing thousands of Chinese e-mail addresses to overseas dissident magazines, a defense lawyer said.

Shanghai's Number One Intermediate People's Court will hear the case behind closed doors on the morning of Nov. 26, lawyer Ma Shen said Wednesday.

Lin, 30, who operated his own software company until his detention in March, faces a heavy prison sentence on charges of inciting the overthrow of the state.

His wife has protested the decision to close the trial to the public in an open letter to the court.

In the letter, faxed by the U.S.-based dissident group Free China Movement Network, she said the case does not qualify for a closed hearing as no state secrets are involved.

But Ma said courts in China still have the legal authority to decide whether a proceeding will be public or not although her argument is correct in principle.

Lin allegedly used other people's Internet addresses and the nickname "Black Eyes" to share tens of thousands of China residents' e-mail addresses with "anti-China" magazines abroad from September 1997 onward.

The magazines then used the used the address list to distribute subversive articles within the country, Free China Movement Network said. ( (c) 1998 Agence France Presse)

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Last updated Thu Nov 19 17:42:37 1998 GMT.