Chinese court tries man who planned Tiananmen protest

BEIJING (AFP) - A man who planned a protest on the anniversary of China's Tiananmen square crackdown went on trial on Sunday for "inciting state subversion", his lawyer said.

Gu Yimin denied the charge at the hearing in the eastern city of Changshu, said Liu Weiguo, one of his lawyers.

State prosecutors said Gu's posting of pictures of the 1989 crackdown, and his application to stage a protest on its anniversary this year, amounted to "inciting state subversion", according to Mr Liu.

"There is nothing illegal about posting a photograph of a genuine incident," the lawyer said, adding that the hearing lasted around four hours.

"His application to protest was entirely in accordance with the law," Mr Liu said, adding that Gu had called off his protest when authorities advised him not to go ahead.

"If his activities caused damage to the (ruling Communist) party, that's not the same as damaging the state," Mr Liu added.

If found guilty Gu could face more than a decade in prison. Mr Liu said the court would announce the verdict at a later date but was not sure when.

Gu posted pictures of the 1989 crackdown online, and applied to the local government to hold a small-scale protest on June 4, the 24th anniversary of the crackdown, his wife Xu Yan previously told AFP.

Charges of incitement to state subversion have previously been used to imprison political dissidents.

Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail for the crime in 2009 after circulating a petition calling for political reforms including democratic elections.

The Communist Party tightly controls public discussion of the Tiananmen crackdown, when troops opened fire on pro-democracy protesters and killed hundreds or possibly thousands.