12/21/2020, 08.56
CHINA
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Trial of poet Wang Zang: his 'freedom of speech' is 'subversion against the power of the state'

The poet has often written in support of Hong Kong's democratic movement and has given interviews to foreign media. His wife Wang Li is accused of the same crimes, even though she had no part in her husband's work. Visits from his lawyer are prohibited under Covid-19 measures. Telephone communications monitored by the prison authorities. Pandemic crisis used to suppress freedom.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The poet Wang Zang and his wife Wang Li will soon be on trial, charged with  "subversion against the state."  The couple’s lawyer, Lu Siwei describes the charge as generic and often used to suppress "freedom of speech". The charge of "subversion" can lead to a life sentence.

Wang Zang, 35, is very active online. His poems, articles and interviews with foreign media often criticize the government's repressive policy. He also expressed his support for Hong Kong's democratic movement, both for "Occupy Central" and for last year's demonstrations.

Wang Zang's wife Wang Li is accused of the same crimes, even though she has not signed or drafted any text. The two were arrested last May and indicted in July and held in two separate prisons in Yunnan.

The couple's lawyer has tried in recent months to meet the two prisoners, but was denied permission, officially for health security reasons, linked to Covid-19. Lu Siwei notes that other lawyers were able to meet their clients during the health crisis.

Lu syas the ban imposed on the two prisoners is "against the law". A friend of theirs points out that the pandemic crisis is now being used to suppress freedom.He was still able to communicate by telephone with the two Wangs, but had to keep the conversation to general topics as the phone calls are monitored by the authorities.

The poet has already been detained on other occasions. In 2014 he spent nine months in prison for posting a photo of the umbrella movement in Hong Kong, in a show of support. Human rights organizations criticize the authorities' move to indict Wang Zang's wife, accused of the same crimes as her husband, as unjust, even without having had any part in her writings.

Lu Siwei said this police action was "inhumane" and explained that the couple's four children are now being cared for by the poet's mother. Lu also said Wang Li is suffering from depression, but the prison authorities have denied her psychological support.

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