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CNN.com reported Monday about the jail sentence of a Chinese blogger who helped the victims of a 2008 earthquake.

 

Huang Qi was sentenced to three years in prison, the maximum sentence, his attorney, Mo Shaoping, said. The charges were for "illegally holding secret state documents," Shaoping said.

 

Huang blogged to help families of children who were killed because of the collapse of poorly constructed school buildings during the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake. He was detained in June 2008.

 

The U.S. State Department protested the ruling, explaining that Huang's activities supported China's efforts to institute the rule of law.

 

Huang made posts on his human rights site, 64Tianwang, criticizing the way earthquake relief was being handed, according to Reporters Without Borders.

 

"The reports we are seeing are biased," Huang wrote on May 20, 2008, according to Reporters Without Borders.

 

"The government is using its propaganda to portray itself as a savior to little avail. Few citizens trust the government because of the corruption scandals that already occurred during similar disasters in the past," Huang wrote.

 

Huang also posted appeals and complaints of families affected by the earthquake.

 

Officials said they found two government documents in his residence. Huang was charged with illegal possession of state secrets after the posting and was tried secretly in August, Amnesty International said.

 

Amnesty International protested the sentencing. "The government is penalizing someone who is trying to help the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. Huang Qi should be treated as a model citizen, committed to the rule of law, but instead he has fallen victim to China's vague state secrets legislation," said Sam Zarifi, director of Amnesty International's Asia Pacific program.

 

Reporters Without Borders said last week that despite Huang suffering bad headaches, he had been held in "very harsh conditions."

 

Mo said Huang plans to appeal the sentencing, but if he cannot lift the sentence, Huang will be released in June 2011 after serving his three years in prison. 

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