China’s ex-internet tsar pleads guilty to taking bribes

Lu Wei: China’s former minister of cyberspace affairs administration. (AFP pic)

BEIJING: The former head of China’s censorship apparatus, Lu Wei, pleaded guilty to accepting 32 million yuan (US$4.6 million) in bribes at a trial Friday.

Lu, who oversaw a tightening of online censorship during his post at the Cyberspace Administration of China, was a fierce defendant of China’s censorship policies.

In 2016, he stepped down from his post, and officials announced he was being investigated for suspected disciplinary violations the following year.

According to a post from Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court’s official Weibo account Friday, Lu was charged with accepting bribes from 2002 to the latter half of 2017.

Prosecutors said that Lu used his influence and position at various government organisations, including the Cyberspace Administration of China and Xinhua News Agency, to help others in exchange for benefits.

At the end of the trial in Zhejiang province, Lu pleaded guilty and “repented in court”, it said.

The former China internet tsar was once named among the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He also met with several Silicon Valley executives, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who personally welcomed him to the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters in 2014.