Two prominent Chinese human rights lawyers, including one who had called for leader Xi Jinping to resign, have been jailed for more than 10 years, an advocacy group and one of the men’s wives said.
Xu Zhiyong and fellow campaigner Ding Jiaxi were convicted of “subversion of state power” following closed-door trials. Both were leading figures in the New Citizens’ Movement, a civil rights group that called for constitutional reform and criticised government corruption.
Xu, who called for President Xi to step down over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, was jailed for 14 years after a closed-door trial in east China’s Shandong province, advocacy group Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
Ding was “jailed for 12 years and deprived of political rights for three years”, his wife Luo Shengchun said, referring to a punishment in China that bars the convicted from holding public office.
Shengchun, who lives in the United States, has pursued his case with US State Department officials. “Their lawyers are forbidden from publishing court verdict documents and they do not dare to reveal where they were sentenced and under what charges,” she told Reuters news agency.
She will keep pressing for information, she added. “I will not let them put Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong in jail so easily.”
William Nee, a representative of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said the sentence showed “how hostile Xi Jinping’s China is becoming towards people who are pushing for democracy”.