Rights lawyer admits he was brainwashed

Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang in an undated photo. He has been charged with "inciting subversion of state power and disrupting court order".
Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang in an undated photo. He has been charged with "inciting subversion of state power and disrupting court order".PHOTO: SCMP'S TWITTER

BEIJING • A leading Chinese human rights lawyer admitted to getting "brainwashed" overseas at the opening of his trial yesterday, the court said, in a case which sparked an international outcry after allegations that he was tortured.

Xie Yang, who had worked on numerous cases considered politically sensitive by China's ruling Communist Party, was among hundreds of legal staff and activists detained in a crackdown in the summer of 2015.

The Changsha Intermediate People's Court announced the trial's start on its account in a microblogging website, saying Xie was charged with "inciting subversion of state power and disrupting court order". The court transcript said Xie did not object to the charges and admitted receiving "training" in Hong Kong and South Korea.

When the judge asked him what kind of training, the court said he answered: "The brainwashing of Western constitutional thoughts" in order to "overthrow the existing system and develop Western constitutionalism in China".

Xie was also asked if he had been tortured, to which he said: "No." He previously claimed police used "sleep deprivation, long interrogations, beatings, death threats, humiliations" on him.

The United States and European Union have voiced concern over Xie Yang's case. Eleven countries, including Australia, Canada and Switzerland, have cited Xie's case in a letter to Beijing, criticising China's detention practices.

The United States and European Union have voiced concern over his case. Eleven countries, including Australia, Canada and Switzerland, have cited Xie's case in a letter to Beijing, criticising China's detention practices.

There was no prior public notice of the trial, and Xie's wife - who relocated to the US earlier this year - said she had heard nothing from the authorities. "The court claims family members are in attendance at the trial, but I wasn't able to reach any of them," she said.

Last-minute delays or sudden announcements of sensitive trials are not uncommon even though Chinese law requires courts to give a defendant's family and lawyers three days' notice of any changes.

On April 25, dozens of supporters and at least seven diplomats gathered at the Changsha court in central Hunan province , only to be told the trial was indefinitely postponed. Since they received no confirmation of the new trial date, diplomatic sources said they were not prepared to head to Changsha again to observe the trial yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Rights lawyer admits he was brainwashed'. Print Edition | Subscribe