Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi accused of 'subversion against state power'
by Wang Zhicheng

The founder of the "New Citizens" movement and the human rights lawyer face sentences of more than 11 years. They are currently held in a Shandong prison, kept isolated, unable to receive mail, nor mee their defence lawyers. For Xu, Xi Jinping, by suppressing freedom of expression, is the cause of the spread of the coronavirus and the proponent of a "new model of totalitarianism".

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Xu Zhiyong, founder of the "New Citizens" movement, and Ding Jiaxi, a human rights lawyer, will be tried for "subversion of state power".

Six months ago they were accused only of "inciting subversion". Thus they risk a longer period of imprisonment. The second charge usually comes with sentences of three to 11 years.

The announcement was made in recent days by friends of the two activists. The two are known to be locked up in Linshu prison (Shandong), but they are in solitary confinement as dangerous criminals and are not allowed to receive mail from their family members or visits from their defence lawyers.

The two men, 47-year-old Xu, 53-year-old Ding, are both linked to the New Citizens movement, a civil society group founded in 2012 that sought to expose corruption in society and support constitutional reforms.

Xi Jinping’s arrival in power coincided with the persecution of the group, even though Xi said he wanted to fight corruption.

Ding lost his lawyer license in 2014 and Xu was sentenced to four years in prison (2013-2017) for "stirring up public disorder". Writing the about his captivity, Xu says that bible reading and prayer supported him throughout that period.

At the start of the pandemic last year, Xu strongly criticised Xi Jinping, accusing him of being the cause of the spread of the virus and of China's social crisis.