One of hundreds of Chinese activists and lawyers rounded up in a crackdown that began a year ago has been taken to court and given a suspended three year jail term for subversion, reportedly after confessing.
Zhai Yanmin was detained in July 2015 together with other dozens of associates and employees of the Beijing-based law firm Fengrui, which specialized in high profile human rights cases.
"[Zhai Yanmin] had long been influenced by anti-China forces, and gradually adopted ideology to overthrow the current state system," partial transcripts of court proceedings released by Xinhua news agency read. "[His actions] seriously harmed state security and social stability."
Xinhua said the relatively light sentence came after Zhai's defense "did not object" to the evidence presented by prosecutors. The agency said they accused him of disrupting the public order, provoking trouble, and posting comments against the government online. Zhai was detained after organizing a sit in outside a court in the province of Shandong.
Rights groups and activists condemned the sentence and said Zhai was assigned a lawyer by the government and that his relatives were not able to access the court.
The Chinese government rejects all criticism of its human rights record. The controls have been notably tightened since president Xi Jinping took office over three years ago. As well as the wave of imprisonments, many lawyers have had their licenses taken away.
The verdict in Zhai's trial comes the day after a prominent rights lawyer from Fengrui law firm named Wang Yu was reportedly released pending her trial. A video of an interview with her — in which she criticizes the firm and alleges it was dominated by "foreign forces" — was posted on various news sites.
"I am Chinese and I only accept the leadership of the Chinese government," Wang is seen saying.
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