Rights lawyer jailed for subverting state

China | 22 Nov 2017

A prominent Chinese rights lawyer was sentenced yesterday to two years imprisonment, after being found guilty of inciting subversion of state power, the latest in a series of similar verdicts amid a sweeping crackdown on activism.

In a verdict posted on its official Weibo microblog yesterday morning, the Changsha Intermediate People's Court said the lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, developed notions of overthrowing China's political system, after being influenced by training workshops held by "anti-China foreign forces" overseas.

The court said Jiang, 46, used social media to "attack or defame" Chinese government departments, and incited others to gather and demonstrate in public.

Jiang's wife, Jin Bianling, who lives in the United States, told media that the verdict was "unacceptable," and that she believed her husband was being made an example to "deter or repress" other rights lawyers.

"I do not acknowledge or accept this verdict," she said. "Jiang Tianyong is innocent."

Jiang, who was disbarred in 2009 after taking on sensitive cases such as defending practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, had been outspoken in criticizing an ongoing government crackdown on dissent, that has seen hundreds of rights lawyers and activists sentenced or detained since mid-2015.

The verdict was handed down exactly one year after Jiang first disappeared last November, while visiting the family of another detained rights lawyer. He was held incommunicado for six months before being formally charged.

The facts in the court's ruling were broadly similar to those in a confession made by Jiang during his trial in August.

But rights groups said the trial was a show trial designed to discredit him.


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