China: 'Gross injustice' as lawyer Wang Quanzhang sentenced to four and a half years
Responding to the four and a half years prison sentence handed down by a Chinese court to human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who was found guilty of “subverting state power”, Doriane Lau, China Researcher at Amnesty International, said:
“Today’s verdict is a gross injustice. It’s outrageous that Wang Quanzhang is being punished for peacefully standing up for human rights in China. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.
“In the three years leading up to his sham of a trial, the authorities disappeared Wang Quanzhang into a black hole, where he was likely tortured. Wang’s family, who continue to be harassed by the authorities, didn’t even know if he was alive until recently. His continued imprisonment only prolongs their suffering.”
Last of the 250 lawyers arrested in 2015 crackdown
Wang Quanzhang was the last lawyer awaiting a verdict in connection with the Chinese government’s mass crackdown in 2015, which targeted nearly 250 human rights lawyers and activists.
Wang was sentenced today at Tianjin Municipal No.2 Intermediate People’s Court. His trial on 26 December 2018 followed more than three years in pre-trial detention. His wife, Li Wenzu, was blocked by the authorities from leaving her apartment complex ahead of the trial to stop her from attending.
Wang Quanzhang was originally detained by police on 3 August 2015. It was only in July 2018 that a lawyer informed his family that Wang was alive and being held in Tianjin.
Before his detention, Wang Quanzhang worked on issues considered sensitive by the Chinese government, such as defending religious freedom and representing members of the New Citizens’ Movement, a network of grassroots activists who promote government transparency and expose corruption. Due to his role in representing such cases, Wang faced frequent intimidation prior to his detention.