04/18/2014, 00.00
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Beijing: four more New Citizens Movement activists convicted

All wanted government officials to declare their economic and financial assets. A court in Haidian found them guilty of disturbing "public order" and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from three and half to two years in prison. Defence lawyer slams the decision, calling it flawed. Now "calling on officials to disclose their assets is a crime."

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China convicted four more 'New Citizens Movement' activists for demanding government officials disclose their wealth.

This is the latest in a long trail of arrests and convictions against dissidents, who nevertheless believe that their demands are in line with President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.

The court in Haidian (Beijing) sentenced Ding Jiaxi (pictured) to three and half years in prison. Zhao Changqing received two and half year; Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng, two years each.

All four were charged with "gathering a crowd to disturb public order", a crime that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

For Ding's lawyer Sui Muqing, the real reason for his client's conviction was his activism.

"It's nothing but an announcement to the world," he said. Now "calling on officials to disclose their assets is a crime."

Sui said Ding would appeal. However, on Thursday, court officials told him that he was not allowed to represent Ding nor attend the sentencing, which Sui said was illegal.

The court's decision follows what appears to be an official campaign against the New Citizens Movement.

On 11 April, the High People's Court of Beijing rejected the appeal filed by Xu Zhiyong, a civil rights activist and founder of the movement, against his four-year sentence imposed back in January.

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