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[CHRD] Dissident Poet Li Bifeng Given 12 Years on Concocted Fraud Charge

China Human Rights Briefing

November 19, 2012

Arbitrary Detention

Sichuan Dissident Li Bifeng Issued 12-Year Prison Term for Alleged Fraud

Sichuan dissident and poet Li Bifeng (李必丰) was given a 12-year sentence on a seemingly concocted charge of “contract fraud” on November 19. This marks the third time Li has gone to prison in apparent retaliation for his pro-democracy and human rights activities. The case against Li ostensibly stems from an agreement he signed with an alcohol company to help sell apartments in Hainan Province. Company heads have claimed that Li owes them more than 2 million yuan (nearly US$ 320,000). Ma Xiaopeng (马小鹏), one of his attorneys, maintains that the charges against Li are baseless, and the other lawyer, Zhao Jianwei (赵建伟) also defended Li’s innocence. Li said he would appeal the punishment, which was handed down by the Shehong County People’s Court.

Contrary to the charges presented in court, it is believed that Li, 48, has been targeted since authorities suspect that he helped finance the escape from China last year of dissident writer Liao Yiwu (廖亦武), a suspicion that Liao himself has said is untrue. An international campaign calling for Li’s release was launched after he was taken into custody in September of 2011. Previously, Li was given five years’ imprisonment for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement” for his involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Li later served seven more years for “economic fraud” for helping workers defend their labor rights.[1]

Edited by Victor Clemens and Renee Xia

[1] “Li Bifeng, Democracy Movement Figure From Mianyang, Sichuan, Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison,” (四川绵阳民运人士李必丰被判刑12年), November 19, 2012, WQW

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