Prominent human-rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has been disbarred and will no longer practice law. Pu was handed a suspended jail sentence in December after being convicted of writing posts on social media that incited “ethnic hatred,” according to China’s ruling Communist Party.
Pu’s lawyers say charges against their client stemmed from seven micro-blog posts Pu made which criticized government officials and ethnic policy in the volatile Xinjiang region.
Pu said he received formal confirmation that his lawyer’s license had been revoked by the Beijing City Judicial Bureau, according to the South China Morning Post. The website reported that Pu declined to comment further as he was not allowed to have interviews.
Pu is known for representing prominent Chinese activists and dissidents like Ai Weiwei. His calls for social justice and his criticism of the Chinese government earned him esteem the world over.
His conviction shocked the country’s rights lawyers, who feared that China would stop at nothing to silence and punish its critics. Several rights lawyers, activists, and journalists have been jailed under the presidency of Xi Jinping.
“Unless one day his conviction is overturned, then he’ll never be allowed to practice law again,” said fellow rights lawyer and friend Shang Baojun. “It’s really the end of his career.”
However, he added the move was expected as any lawyer convicted of a crime can no longer practice law.