12/22/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing court sentences Gao Zhisheng to three years in prison

The noted lawyer and human rights activist is found guilty of subversion. For the judges, his articles about corruption among Communist leaders are the evidence.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court handed down lawyer and well-known human rights activist Gao Zhisheng a three-year suspended prison sentence for subversion. His political rights were suspended for one year.

The court ruled that he engaged in sedition by signing nine articles that were published on the internet. It also cited the three open letters Gao wrote to President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (see previous AsiaNews coverage) in which he called for religious freedom and less corruption.

The court ruled that the articles “defamed the Chinese central government and amounted to agitation aimed at toppling the government”.

According to his attorneys, the judges’ verdict came on December 12 based on Gao’s “spontaneous” confession. However, the credibility of this version of events remains in doubt.

“We were unable to meet our client and get first hand information. For this reason we cannot make any comments about his alleged confession,” Gao’s lawyers, Mo Shaoping and Ding Xikui, explained said. 

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