January 28, 2019
China has sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to four and a half years in prison for state subversion.
Wang, 42, had defended political campaigners and victims of land seizures, as well as followers of the banned spiritual Falun Gong movement.
He was one of several lawyers and activists arrested in a 2015 crackdown, and the last to go on trial.
China has intensified its prosecution of rights lawyers in recent years.
Mr Wang was “found guilty of subverting state power, sentenced to four years and six months in prison, and deprived of political rights for five years,” the court in Tianjin said.
The trial had been conducted behind closed doors with journalists and foreign diplomats barred from entering the courthouse.
Reuters news agency reports that Wang fired his state-appointed lawyer during the proceedings.
Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, was also banned from attending and confined to her home in Beijing. A tireless champion of his case, she has shaved her head in protest against his detention and files near-weekly petitions to China’s highest court.
In April, police intercepted Ms Li after she began a 100km (62 mile) march calling for her husband’s release. She was forcibly returned to Beijing and placed under temporary house arrest with her five-year-old son.
After the verdict Ms Li tweeted: “Wang Quanqi is not guilty, the public prosecution law is guilty!”