Sat, Feb 04, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Police stop lawyer meeting Merkel

AFP, BEIJING

A rights lawyer who has defended some of China’s most prominent dissidents said yesterday that police prevented him from meeting visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mo Shaoping (莫少平), whose clients include jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), said he was invited to a reception at the German embassy to be attended by Merkel on Thursday, but police arrived at his office and stopped him going.

“They were in my office for over three hours. They had no legal basis for stopping me, but they would not let me go,” Mo said.

“I had been invited on Monday to discuss with the chancellor China’s situation concerning the law and the plight of lawyers,” he said.

Mo said police told him he was not allowed to attend the meeting because of concerns over social stability ahead of a key Communist Party meeting scheduled for late this year that will usher in a leadership transition.

The German embassy in Beijing did not immediately comment on the absence of Mo, who also defended the jailed rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟).

Merkel had said that she would raise human rights issues during her visit.

Yesterday, Merkel departed for south China’s manufacturing hub, where she was scheduled to meet Gan Junqiu (甘俊邱), the state-backed Catholic bishop of Guangzhou, according to a German diplomatic source.

Police in China rounded up scores of human rights lawyers and activists early last year amid online calls for protests in China similar to those that toppled governments in North Africa and the Middle East.

Mo said it was not the first time that police had stopped him meeting western leaders or diplomats.

Last year, he was prevented from seeing French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Beijing-based diplomats from Germany, the Netherlands and the EU, but he was allowed to meet US Ambassador to China Gary Locke in October, he said.

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