In a rare display of official tolerance, outspoken Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (
Gao, 42, was given a five-year reprieve, Xinhua news agency said yesterday, quoting sources with a local court. That meant he does not have to serve his sentence unless he commits another crime over the next five years.
Gao has legally represented religious activists, members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and farmers with land disputes.
It was unclear why he was given a relatively lenient sentence, coming on the heels of a 20-year jail term for sociologist Lu Jianhua (
But he was also deprived of his political rights for one year, which would prevent him from speaking to reporters and might mean he could be kept under house arrest or surveillance.
Gao was accused of posting nine "seditious articles," on overseas Web sites.
China secretly tried Gao this month on a charge of inciting subversion of state power, drawing condemnation from dissidents.
The hearing excluded Gao's chosen lawyers, who have not been allowed to visit him.
Gao is one of several activists held or jailed in a crackdown on campaigners seeking to use legal activism to expand citizens' rights. Last February he started a "relay style" hunger strike to protest what he said was police brutality against activists. Dissidents across China and around the world participated in the hunger strike.
Gao's case comes amid a crackdown on Chinese lawyers who represent people with grievances against the government over corruption, seizures of farmland and other abuses. Lawyers have been detained and harassed, and some have been stripped of their licenses.
The Chinese government tightened restrictions on lawyers this year in an apparent effort to contain a surge in politically sensitive cases. The new restrictions require lawyers to follow government guidance in handling cases, to avoid talking to foreign reporters and to discourage clients from protesting.
His wife and other relatives have faced police harassment and house arrest.
"As a friend, I'm happy he can go home back to his wife and children," fellow activist Hu Jia (
"This is the result of the endeavors of the international community and activists. This is our first victory," Hu said. "Gao Zhisheng is innocent and the case itself is an infringement of his human rights."
Meanwhile, a Chinese vice admiral has been jailed for life on a charge of embezzlement, a Beijing-funded Hong Kong newspaper reported yesterday.
Originally it was reported that Wang Shouye (
A Beijing military court convicted and sentenced Wang on Dec. 14, the Wen Wei Po newspaper said, quoting unidentified sources.
A CAUTIONARY TALE: Bookseller Lam Wing-kee speaks of the danger that his adopted home Taiwan now faces and the ordeal of his detention in China Lam Wing-kee (林榮基) leaned forward in his chair, answering quickly and sharply to issue a warning to the people of his new home, Taiwan. “Be ready now,” Lam said. “We should be more alert as citizens, we should get ready,” the 64-year-old Hong Konger said. “If they can take Hong Kong back, the next place, I feel, is Taiwan.” Late in Taipei at Causeway Bay Books Mark II, on the 10th floor of a nondescript building, Lam, a wiry, gray-haired bookseller, was sitting at his desk with a bemused gaze behind thin oval glasses. The desk was neat, but crowded with books and a
‘POLICE EVERYWHERE’: A law that would criminalize the publication of images of police officers was passed by the National Assembly and awaits Senate approval Violent clashes erupted in Paris on Saturday as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest against new security legislation, with tensions intensified by the police beating and racial abuse of a black man that shocked France. Several fires were started in Paris, sending acrid smoke into the air, as protesters vented their anger against the security law, which would restrict the publication of police officers’ faces. About 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide, the French Ministry of the Interior said. Protest organizers said about 500,000 joined nationwide, including 200,000 in the capital. French President Emmanuel Macron late
Not enough beds and not enough doctors: a skyrocketing COVID-19 caseload is pushing hospitals in the Balkans to the cusp of collapse, in chaotic scenes reminding some medics of the region’s 1990s wars. After nearly a year of keeping outbreaks more or less under control, the nightmare scenario that the Balkans feared from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is now starting to unfold. In hard-hit Bosnia-Herzegovina, one doctor described the distress of having to juggle the care of multiple patients whose lives were hanging by a thread. “The situation reminds me of the war, and I’m afraid it could get even worse
The genteel world of New Zealand pottery has been rocked by a row over plans for a ceramic dildo-making workshop, sparking allegations of bullying and online abuse. Ceramicist Nicole Gaston said that she wanted the Wellington Potters’ Association to hold the event with Iza Lozano, a visiting Mexican artist who has conducted similar workshops in her homeland. Gaston said that pottery dildos are easily sterilized, can be warmed and, unlike latex versions, do not pose the risk of leeching chemicals into the body. “Some of the oldest ceramic works ever found are of phalluses,” she said. “This isn’t exactly brand new. People have