BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese court yesterday jailed a prominent rights lawyer for two years, saying he incited subversion of state power, the most recent such verdict in a sweeping crackdown on activism.
Jiang Tianyong, 46, developed notions of overthrowing China’s political system after being influenced by training workshops held by “anti-China foreign forces” overseas, the court in the central city of Changsha said.
He used social media to “attack or defame” government departments and incited others to gather and demonstrate in public, the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court said on its Weibo microblog.
However, Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, called the verdict “unacceptable”, adding she believed he was being made an example of, in order to deter or repress other rights lawyers.
“I do not acknowledge or accept this verdict,” she said by phone from the US, where she lives. “Jiang Tianyong is innocent.”
Jiang’s family was unable to appoint their own lawyers, Ms Jin said, and she had been unable to contact him in detention.
In Geneva, the UN human rights office, which has denounced China’s crackdown on defence lawyers since 2015, called for his release. “We urge the Chinese authorities to release Jiang Tianyong as well as lawyer Wang Quanzhang and other lawyers and activists who have remained in detention since August 2015,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.
The verdict came exactly a year after Jiang disappeared last November while visiting the family of another detained rights lawyer. He was held incommunicado for six months before being charged.
There were “serious concerns regarding the lawfulness of the legal proceedings”, said Germany’s ambassador to China, Michael Clauss, including the denial of access to lawyers of Jiang’s choice. “The circumstances and the lack of regard for the rights of the defendant certainly call into question the fairness of the verdict,” Mr Clauss said.