Prisoner of Conscience

When Dr. Jiang Yanyong blew the whistle, he was confident his country would welcome his candor. In April 2003, shortly after he sent an open letter to the media detailing how the Chinese government was covering up an outbreak of SARS in Beijing, the septuagenarian retired People's Liberation Army (P.L.A.) surgeon told TIME he had no reason to fear punishment for challenging China's official line. He was, after all, high-ranking in the military, a veteran member of the Communist Party and a doctor exercising what he called his "professional responsibility to protect the health of the people." His patriotism, he said,...

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