An outspoken and respected Chinese journalist accused of leaking state secrets to foreign contacts faces a life prison sentence. There was a heavy police presence around the court in Beijing as the trial of 70-year-old Gao Yu got underway on Friday.
Footage of Gao confessing to a crime and expressing remorse was aired on Chinese television.
Her lawyer said she told judges at a pre-trial hearing that she was forced to confess when threats were made against her son.
Meanwhile in the northwest of China, Ilham Tohti, an economics professor given life imprisonment for “separatism”, has lost an appeal against his sentence.
Tohti campaigned for better rights for China’s Uighur minority.
His case has been condemned by the US, the European Union and human rights groups.
Experts say it is one of the toughest penalties in more than a decade for an outspoken critic of the state.