Tiananmen activist Chai Ling sues makers of film about 1989 protest

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The makers of an acclaimed documentary about the Tiananmen Square demonstrations say that a lawsuit brought against them by one of the leading student activists shows that she has abandoned the principle of freedom of speech.

Chai Ling, once among the most-wanted people in China, is suing the makers of Gate of Heavenly Peace, claiming that a website accompanying the film infringes the trademark of her US-based software firm, Jenzabar Inc. The company claims that Long Bow Group, a small independent organisation based in Boston, is “motivated by ill-will, their sympathy for officials in the Communist Government of China, and a desire to discredit Chai, a former student leader in the pro-democracy movement”.

A court has already dismissed a defamation suit brought by Ms Chai. The claim that the film-makers are infringing trademark by mentioning Jenzabar on their website also looks unlikely to succeed, according to court statements.

But the case has led to accusations that Ms Chai has forgotten the ideals of freedom of speech. Carma Hinton, a founder of Long Bow, told The Times that the former activist appeared to have set aside the ideals of an open society for which she fought so courageously 20 years ago on Tiananmen Square.

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