Pu is Found Guilty of “Inciting Ethnic Hatred” and Gets Suspended Sentence

Internationally renowned Chinese human-rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was released from detention and sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday. However, the court said the sentence would be suspended.

Pu is now under “residential surveillance” and he has 10 days to appeal the conviction, according to his lawyers. Pu may avoid jail time, but he could remain under surveillance during the sentence.

He left the Number One Detention Center on Tuesday after having been held there for 14 months.

The lawyer was found guilty of “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels” after writing seven social media posts critical of the ruling Communist Party on the Twitter-like platform Weibdo.

The posts questioned the government’s “violent crackdown” on Uighurs in the Xinjiang region, claimed the government was lying, and mocked the government in its rhetoric used to defend its claims on disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The guilty verdict means Pu no longer can practice law.

Supporters called his arrest a politically-motivated attempt to strike fear into the hearts of dissidents and human-rights lawyers across China. His detention is part of a state-wide crackdown on dissidents which has intensified under the presidency of Xi Jinping.

In recent years, prominent lawyers, activists and journalists have been put behind bars.

During Pu’s trial, several protestors and journalists gathered outside the court room before becoming involved in scuffles with plainclothes police officers who dragged some of them away.

Amnesty International called Pu’s sentencing “a deliberate attempt by the Chinese authorities to shackle a champion of freedom of expression.”

Still, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, insisted Pu’s case had been handled “in accordance with the law.” He added that “foreign governments should respect China’s judicial sovereignty.”
According to state-run news agency Xinhua, Pu “acknowledged the nature of his crimes and apologized before accepting the sentence. However, his lawyers say he never pleaded guilty.

 

 

 

 

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