After more than two years in prison, well-known dissident Xu Zhiyong goes on trial
The human rights lawyer, who is accused of trying to subvert state power, faces life in prison, but his lawyers will plead not guilty. The manner in which he was arrested is disputed. He was detained after he called for Xi Jinping's resignation in the wake of the outbreak of the pandemic. Activists linked to him are in the same situation.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – The trial for the well-known human rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong finally seems to be on the agenda.
The former law professor at Peking University has spent more than two years in jail after he was charged with planning a "colour revolution" to subvert state power and for the minor offence of “incitement to subversion”.
If found guilty he could get life in prison. According to the authorities, Xu and other activists were inspired by the colour revolutions that broke out in the early 2000s in some former Soviet republics like Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, which cites friends of the activist and legal sources, the Linyi People's Intermediate Court (Shandong) informed Xu's lawyers that a pre-trial hearing is scheduled for this Friday.
This suggests that a full trial is imminent. The same is the case for Ding Jiaxi, Xu's colleague, who is also in prison awaiting trial on the same charges.
The latest reports indicate that Xu is currently detained at the Linshu County Penitentiary (Shandong). According to the Post, his lawyers will plead not guilty, claiming that his arrest and detention violated legal procedures.
After attending a meeting with pro-democracy activists in Xiamen (Fujian) in December 2019, Xu went on the run for some time, but police eventually arrested him on 15 February 2020 in Guangzhou (Guangdong) during a "health check" for COVID-19.
Founder of the New Citizens Movement, the academic is a well-known critic of the Chinese Communist Party.
He was given a four-year sentence back in January 2014 for defending democracy and denouncing the corruption of Chinese leaders.
In early February 2020, Xu published an article online arguing that Xi Jinping was “unable to manage" the pandemic crisis.
He blames the regime's crackdown on freedom of expression for contributing to the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus.
According to the activist, the Chinese president also failed to address the trade war with the United States and the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
In addition to Ding, other activists linked to Xu are currently in prison, most notably Chang Weiping, Zhang Zhongshun, Dai Zhenya and Li Yingjun.
Xu’s girlfriend Li Qiaochu was also jailed in February 2021 on subversion charges for tweeting that Xu and Ding were mistreated in prison.