Newspaper article International New York Times

Trial of Activists Resumes in China ; Defendants Are Facing Charges of 'Incitement to Subvert State Power'

Newspaper article International New York Times

Trial of Activists Resumes in China ; Defendants Are Facing Charges of 'Incitement to Subvert State Power'

Article excerpt

The proceedings against the three, Tang Jingling, Yuan Xinting and Wang Qingying, on charges of inciting subversion, continued on Thursday after a monthlong halt.

The trial of three prominent rights campaigners, including an attorney, on charges of inciting subversion continued on Friday in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, amid a sweeping crackdown on human rights lawyers that has drawn international condemnation.

The proceedings against the three, Tang Jingling, Yuan Xinting and Wang Qingying, resumed on Thursday after a monthlong halt and continued on Friday. The defendants have been held for more than a year since being detained for promoting nonviolent civil disobedience and distributing books about democracy.

Wang Yanfang, the wife of Mr. Tang, 44, a human rights lawyer, said on Thursday that her husband had denied in court that he sought to overthrow the government, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. He told the court that he had simply downloaded books from the Internet, not written or edited them, she said.

"We all know that he is innocent," Ms. Wang said by telephone. "But the overall situation is critical these days, and there is not much we can do."

The trial was suspended in June, after the defendants dismissed their lawyers in a bid to prevent it from proceeding. The court had refused to allow their defense team to call witnesses and rejected requests to prevent Communist Party members from sitting on the bench.

Wu Kuiming, the lawyer for Wang Qingying, 32, a former teacher, said by telephone on Thursday that the activists would plead not guilty. He said the court had continued to prohibit the defense team from calling witnesses to testify, though prosecutors were allowed to do so.

About 250 rights lawyers and associates have been detained, arrested or questioned by the Chinese authorities this month, including one of the Guangzhou defendants' attorneys, Sui Muqing. Mr. Sui has been held since July 10 on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," the same charge the Guangzhou defendants face.

"The situation is severe all across the country," said Mr. Wu, the lawyer.

The United States State Department said in a statement that it was "deeply concerned" about the Guangzhou case and about what appears to be a systematic pattern of arrests and detentions of rights advocates who "peacefully challenge official Chinese policies and actions. …

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