China jails rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang for subversion | News | DW | 28.01.2019
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China jails rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang for subversion

A court in Tianjin has sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to 4 1/2 years in prison for subversion of state power. The 42-year-old went missing in 2015 amid a crackdown on activists and lawyers.

Watch video 00:26

Li Wenzu: 'An unfair and unjust ruling'

Human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang has been handed a jail term of 4 1/2 years for state subversion by a court in northern China.

The No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in the city of Tianjin announced the verdict on its website on Monday. It said Wang's political rights would also be withheld for five years.

Wang, 42, worked for the now-shuttered Fengrui law firm in Beijing. He is known for defending political activists as well as victims of government land seizures and police torture.

He initially disappeared in August 2015 when authorities rounded up more than 200 lawyers and activists who frequently took on the Communist authorities in what is now known as the "709 crackdown," for the date, July 9, on which the majority of them were taken.

Doriane Lau, China researcher with rights group Amnesty International, called the verdict "a gross injustice."

"It's outrageous that Wang Quanzhang is being punished for peacefully standing up for human rights in China," she wrote on Twitter.

"In the three years leading up to his sham of a trial, the authorities disappeared Wang Quanzhang into a black hole, where he was likely tortured," she added.

Read more: Chinese human rights lawyers remain defiant despite crackdown

Watch video 02:17

Human rights lawyer on trial for subversion

Legal limbo

Wang was in legal limbo for months before being charged with subverting state power in January 2016. He then spent nearly three years in detention without access to his family or lawyers of his choosing before his trial got underway in late 2018.

The hearing took place behind closed doors "due to the state secrets involved," the court said. Rights groups have called the case a sham.

Read moreLife and struggle of Liu Xia, widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

Wang's wife, Li Wenzu, was placed under de facto house arrest ahead of the trial to prevent her from attending. She has not seen her husband since his arrest and has continued to protest his detention.

In December, Li and three supporters shaved their heads and tried to lodge a petition criticizing Wang's treatment with a Beijing court. She alleged that judges in his trial had unlawfully delayed proceedings and barred her from appointing a lawyer.

In April, she attempted to march 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the facility where her husband was being held to raise awareness about his plight but was stopped by police before she arrived. She also met with Angela Merkel during the German chancellor's two-day visit to China in May — a rare move for a visiting leader.

nm/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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