A Chinese court on Monday sentenced human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who went missing in August 2015, to four-and-a-half years in prison for subverting state power, Reuters reported. The lawyer was arrested during a government crackdown on dissident lawyers and activists.
Wang used to represent political campaigners, victims of land seizures and devotees of the prohibited spiritual Falun Gong movement.
Human Rights Watch researcher Wang Yaqiu condemned the court verdict, calling it a mockery of China’s claims to champion the rule of law.
In December, the United Nations had urged Beijing to “ensure his due process rights are respected” and said there were “serious human rights concerns” about the case. Chinese law allows detention time served prior to a sentencing to be deducted from jail terms.
Reuters said it was unable to contact Wang or secure a response from the Chinese justice ministry.
Meanwhile, Wang’s wife Li Wenzu, who was not allowed to attend the trial, said her husband had dismissed his state-appointed lawyer. She claimed her husband was innocent and accused the Chinese authorities of inhuman behaviour. “I respect and support every choice that Wang Quanzhang has made,” Reuters quoted Li as saying. “I will continue to defend Wang Quanzhang’s rights.”
Li has been staging protests since Wang went missing in 2015. She has marched 100-km to Tianjin, shaved her head and issued almost weekly pleas to the Supreme People’s Court, urging it to release her husband.