Rights lawyer gets suspended jail term

Li Heping
Li Heping

BEIJING • A Chinese court announced yesterday that it had sentenced a prominent human rights lawyer to a three-year suspended jail sentence for subverting state power, after a closed-door trial.

Li Heping, who previously defended practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, was detained along with dozens of activists and lawyers in mid-2015 during a crackdown on dissent.

As the case touched on state secrets, the trial was held behind closed doors on Tuesday in the Tianjin City No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, said a post on its Weibo social media account. It handed down a three-year jail sentence, suspended for four years, it said, adding that Li would be stripped of political privileges.

President Xi Jinping has tightened the state's grip on independent civil society since 2012, citing threats to national security.

Li could not be reached for comment, and telephone calls to the court were not answered.

The court said that, since 2008, Li Heping had used the Internet and foreign media to smear and attack state organs and the legal system. Li had also accepted foreign funds, hyped cases and intentionally provoked dissatisfaction with society among "some people who don't know the fact of the matter".

The court said that, since 2008, Li had used the Internet and foreign media to smear and attack state organs and the legal system. Li had also accepted foreign funds, hyped cases and intentionally provoked dissatisfaction with society among "some people who don't know the fact of the matter", said the court.

He also colluded with a small group of lawyers, individuals engaged in illegal religious activities and professional petitioners to attack the constitutionally based system, the court said in its ruling. It added that Li had expressed regret and said his behaviour had broken criminal law. He would not appeal.

Earlier yesterday, Li's wife, Madam Wang Qiaoling, said several men who identified themselves as police surrounded her near her home in Beijing as she was walking her dog. They asked her to go with them to Tianjin to see Li, but she refused as they did not provide identification papers.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Rights lawyer gets suspended jail term'. Print Edition | Subscribe