Activist avoids jail for ‘subversion of state power’ in China

A court in China has imposed a three-year suspended sentence on a human rights activist charged with subversion of state power, following a brief trial.

It was the first publicly acknowledged hearing in a year-long case shrouded in secrecy and involving hundreds of activists.

The official Xinhua News Agency said a court in Tianjin sentenced Zhai Yanmin, who was arrested in July last year as part of a government campaign which paralysed China’s activist legal circles. Some 300 lawyers and activists were seized and questioned.

Most were released.

Zhai’s is the first of four cases expected to be heard this week after prosecutors last month announced they would try a lawyer, Zhou Shifeng, of Beijing law firm Fengrui — which worked extensively on human rights cases — and three activists who worked with the firm, including Zhai.

More than a dozen others remain jailed, their legal status uncertain.

According to Xinhua, Zhai said in court that the group of lawyers, citizens, and petitioners who believed in “pushing the wall” — a Chinese expression for overthrowing the government — methodically hyped politically sensitive cases.

Xinhua said the court was told Zhai and the three others had “conspired and plotted to subvert state power”, and had “established a systematic ideology, method, and steps to achieve it”.


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