Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan are trying a pro-democracy activist and former manager of a local cybercafe for "subversion," his lawyer said.
"The trial lasted for two hours ... but they aren't saying it's incitement to subversion now; it's just straight subversion," said rights lawyer Ma Xiaopeng, who is representing Cao Haibo.
"During the hearing, we tried to point out some unreasonable elements in the prosecution's case—the fact that these charges are trumped up," Ma said.
"We pointed this out very clearly, but we don't know if it has had any effect," he said. "This trial isn't being held openly."
Cao, 27, formerly managed an Internet cafe in Kunming. His trial was held behind closed doors at the Kunming Municipal Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday.
His wife, Zhang Nian, had applied for a permit to attend the trial, but was turned down because the case "involved secrets."
She was later allowed a meeting lasting just five minutes with Cao.
"I wasn't allowed in [to the courtroom], so after the hearing was over, I took our baby to visit him briefly," Zhang told RFA's Cantonese service after the visit. "He said a couple of words to the baby. The meeting lasted only a few minutes."
"It has been so long since we saw each other, we didn't know what to say, so we didn't say very much," she said. "He said he was doing fine [in the detention center] and told me to take good care of our child."
The visit was the first Cao has been permitted since his initial detention last October, according to the China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).
"During Cao’s detention, his wife has gone long periods without receiving correspondence from him, and has been largely unaware of her husband’s situation," the group said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
Cao was detained by state security police on Oct. 21, and he was formally arrested on Nov. 25.
Police also searched his home and confiscated cell phones, desktop computers, a laptop, and USB drives, among other items, CHRD said.
Originally from the eastern province of Jiangsu, Cao is currently being detained at the Xishan detention center in Kunming.
Decades in jail
In a separate development, CHRD expressed concern over released Tiananmen Square protester Li Yujun, who served nearly 23 years in jail after he set fire to an oil truck in an attempt to prevent People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops from marching on student-led protests during the 1989 democracy movement.
"Li, now 45 years old, will reportedly need to report to a police station once a month, and he will not be allowed to leave Beijing, give media interviews, or express political views online," CHRD said.
Li initially received a death sentence in 1991 at the Beijing Higher People’s Court for "arson," which was commuted to life imprisonment and later reduced to 20 years in 1996.
Released earlier this month from Beijing No. 2 Prison, Li was one of the last of the 1989 "hooligans"—ordinary people who took the side of the students—still serving sentences for convictions linked to the 1989 crackdown.
Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.