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A student at the University of Minnesota was sentenced to six months in prison in China for tweets he posted while he was studying in the U.S., Axios reported.

Axios cited a Chinese court document that accused the student, Luo Daiqing, of having “used his Twitter account to post more than 40 comments denigrating a national leader's image and indecent pictures” in September and October of 2018, when he was studying in Minnesota.

Luo was detained last July after returning to his hometown in China. In November, he was sentenced to six months in prison for “provocation.” The time he spent in detention counts toward that six months, according to the court document cited by Axios.

U.S. senator Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, called for China to immediately release Luo.

"Don't forget that the Chinese Communist Party has banned Twitter, so the only people who even saw these tweets were the goons charged with monitoring Chinese citizens while they're enjoying freedom here in the United States," he said. "This is what ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism looks like."

“It is obvious that China is attempting to send a signal with Luo Daiqing’s conviction -- they are telling overseas Chinese citizens that there is no place where they are free from state censorship and surveillance,” said James Tager, the deputy director of Free Expression Research and Policy at PEN America, a group dedicated to promoting free expression. “Luo’s case has implications for every Chinese student studying abroad, and for every academic institution that seeks to safeguard its students’ freedom of speech.”

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