Concerns are growing over the health of a detained rights activist in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, who has been held for nearly two years in pretrial detention.
Ge Jueping was among a group of at least nine rights activists detained in Jiangsu's Suzhou city since 2016, when China played host to the G20 leadership summit in Hangzhou.
Ge was already diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland when he was incarcerated, Fuzhou-based rights activist Zhuang Lei told RFA on Tuesday.
"He had had surgery ... but this illness requires him to take medicine every day," Zhuang said. "The doctor gave him a prescription for traditional Chinese herbal medicine, but his family have been worried because he has been cut off from his supply of medicine for such a long time."
"There is no dispensary in the detention center; nor are there facilities for brewing up [herbal] medicines," he said.
Ge was detained in September 2016 on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," and later formally arrested on the same charge.
His wife Lu Guoying was detained at the same time on public order charges and later released on bail.
"When the lawyer went to visit him last month, [my husband] told the lawyer that he could feel some kind of discharge in the ear where the surgery was," Lu told RFA.
"His thyroid gland has also gotten bigger, and he can't swallow. He has made an application to be fed rice gruel."
Lu said Ge's lawyer had applied to the court for his release on bail in June, but has yet to receive a response.
'Dragging their feet'
Ge was indicted on subversion charges in April, but no trial date has yet been set. According to Lu, the process has been delayed by her husband's refusal to fire his lawyer and accept an officially appointed one instead.
She said the charges against him were linked to his public support for another activist.
"He received the indictment on April 16, and the trial should have taken place by July 16 at the latest, according to law," Lu said. "Now they are dragging their feet, mainly because Ge Jueping hired a lawyer of his own, and refused to have a lawyer hired by the government."
She said the authorities are basing the case against him partly on his public support for evictee Fan Mugen, who was jailed for eight years in May 2015 for killing two of the demolition team sent to destroy his home.
Another reason was Ge's support for four prominent rights lawyers who traveled to Jiansanjiang city near the Russian border to investigate claims that the Falun Gong practitioners were being held illegally in a "black jail," or extrajudicial detention center, Lu said.
They were detained for more than two weeks before being released, with two of them detailing extreme physical abuse while in detention and a third describing torture while in custody.
The indictment also cited Ge's criticism of the police killing of a petitioner at the Qing'an railway station in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang in May 2015, amid widespread public doubts about the credibility of the government’s investigation of the shooting, Lu said.
She said she believes that none of her husband's action amounted to incitement to subversion.
The initial protest in support of Fan Mugen and related detentions came in the immediate wake of mass detentions and security operations around the G20 Summit in nearby Hangzhou, and some of the Suzhou activists were accused of making "politically sensitive" posts to social media during the summit.
Retired People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier Fan Mugen was found guilty of "intentional wounding" by the Suzhou Intermediate People's Court following his trial in February 2015, and jailed for eight years.
Fan's case is politically sensitive as it comes amid growing public anger over the use of violent forced evictions, often with no warning or due process, by local governments to reclaim land for lucrative redevelopment or speculation.
Fan attacked two members of a demolition gang that came to evict his family from their home on Dec. 3, 2013, and who he said beat up his wife. The two men later died.
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.