IWMF Denounces Sentencing of Xueqin (Sophia) Huang

On June 14, Chinese journalist Xueqin (Sophia) Huang – the IWMF’s 2022 Wallis Annenberg Justice for Women Journalists Award winner – was sentenced to five years in prison on unsubstantiated charges of “incitement to subvert state authority.” This sentencing comes nearly 10 months after Huang was tried behind closed doors on September 23 without legal support.

Sophia was forcibly disappeared in September 2021, alongside activist Wang Jianbing, one day before she was scheduled to board a plane to the United Kingdom to study at the University of Sussex. Throughout her detention, Sophia’s access to legal support and family membershas been severely restricted; she has also been subjected to torture, a notorious tool used by the Chinese police.

Before her detention, Sophia was a pioneering leader of China’s #MeToo movement, exposing sexual harassment by government officials. Her imprisonment is a direct attempt by the Communist Party to silence and discredit this work.

Press freedom is in a stranglehold in China, which currently ranks 172 out of 180 countries on the RSF World Press Freedom Index. It is the world’s largest jailer of journalists and press freedom defenders, with at least 118 current detainees.

Journalism is not a crime, and reporting on social issues and promoting women’s rights is in the public’s interest. Including time served, Sophia’s release date is now September 18, 2026 – representing five years of vital reporting loss. Every day that Sophia remains imprisoned is a day too many; we continue to demand her immediate release and that all charges against her are dropped.