Rinchen Samdup, the third brother in his family to be jailed, ran an environmental NGO in the mountainous Gonjo county of eastern Tibet. The NGO mobilized about 1,700 local villagers to reforest the area and report poaching, and even to run a small magazine. It worked with international conservation groups and was praised by the Chinese media.
The so called Chamdho Prefecture Court found Samdup guilty of incitement to split the country, lawyer Xia Jun told Reuters.
The Tibetan environmentalist had pleaded not guilty but was convicted and deprived of his political rights for three years. He was accused of posting a pro-His Holiness the Dalai Lama article on his website, the lawyer said.
He has 10 days to appeal the sentence. Exile Tibetan groups say he ran afoul of powerful local interests after accusing a local police officer of poaching.
In June, the 2006 Environmentalist of the Year, Tibetan businessman and Rinchen's elder brother, Karma Samdup, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on tomb-raiding charges. Samdup is one of the founding members of the award winning environmental NGO Three Rivers Environmental Protection Association and a respected philanthropist throughout the community. His supporters believe that Samdup is being made an example of because of his public activism. This case is significant because it precedents the Chinese government's stance on torture.
Karma had tried to defend his brothers. Late last year the youngest brother, Jigme Namgyal, was sentenced to 21 months of re-education through hard labour for 'endangering state security' by assisting Rinchen Samdup in running his NGO.
The court found he had helped compile three audio-visual disks on the ecology of the region, possessed materials regarding exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, incited locals to interfere with government work and tried to register the NGO with the government.
Several Tibetan journalists, writers, artists and intellectuals have been detained or have disappeared in recent months in what activists say amounts to the broadest suppression of Tibetan culture and expression for years.