A Chinese man who claimed himself to be an environment activist has been sentenced to three years in prison on charges of extortion and fraud on Friday.
Wu Lihong, 39, a farmer in Zhoutie Township of Yixing City in east China's Jiangsu Province, was also fined 3,000 yuan (about 390 U.S. dollars), the Yixing City People's Court ruled.
The court said in October, 2003, Wu got to know that the Changzhou-based Wujin Dongfang Dust-removal Equipment Factory signed a contract with the No.17 Metallurgical Construction Co., Ltd, which was based in east China's Anhui Province, to provide dust filters to the company.
Wu went to the Wujin Dongfang factory and claimed himself to be an "environment activist" and he had close connections with the provincial and city-level environment protection authorities.
He threatened the factory that its equipment would not pass environmental tests and the factory would not be able to obtain due profits from its business partners if Wu failed to get kickbacks from the deal.
The factory gave Wu 30,000 yuan (3,900 U.S. dollars) in 2004 for fear of difficulties in getting back its profits from the business partner.
Wu was detained on April 13 this year and arrested on April 30 on extortion and fraud charges.
Prosecutors said Wu's diary detailed a list of blackmail targets and showed amounts of money he had planned to extort from each factory or enterprise involved in pollution.
Wu had led a campaign to clean up the Taihu Lake in eastern China. He was hailed as an "eco-warrior" for spending years to expose and report on polluting factories.
The provincial environmental administration of Jiangsu recommended Wu for nationwide "Top Ten Environmentalists" honors for his advocacy work in 2005.