Chinese Webmaster Sentenced to Life in Prison

Gretchen Gallen
BEIJING – Following a prolonged investigation by Chinese officials, the operator of several of adult websites was sentenced to life in prison by the Taiyuan Intermediate People's Court, Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

Chen Hui ran four adult paysites, starting with PornographicSummer.com in 2004, which reportedly garnered more than 600,000 paying members at up to $33 per signup. PornographicSummer.com, also known as Qingseliuyuetian, was considered one of the largest Chinese adult websites in existence. VIP members are believed to have paid $500 for full access to the site.

Eight of Hui’s employees were also jailed, Xinhua reported, and could face jail terms of up to a year in prison each for their involvement in running the websites. All nine men have been under house arrest since November 2005, when the website first came to the attention of Chinese authorities.

The Taiyuan Court also confiscation of 100,000 yuan ($12,500) from Hui’s website operation, and Chinese officials are in the process of tracking down the rest of Hui’s profits in offshore bank accounts.

Xinhua reports that Hui was able to avoid capture by changing domain names and the location of his servers, many of which were reportedly located in the U.S.

The sentencing of Hui comes on the heels of dozens of other similar cases challenging the Chinese government’s intolerance for pornography.

Between September and November, China’s Ministry of Public Security shut down 598 porn websites and wiped out 35 porn domain names.