A court in the central Chinese province of Hubei has rejected an appeal by jailed rights activist Liu Feiyue against his five-year jail term for "subversion."
Citizen journalist and rights activist Liu, who founded the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website, was jailed for five years on Jan. 29 by the Suizhou Intermediate People's Court, which found him guilty of "incitement to subvert state power."
However, his appeal against both the guilty verdict and the jail term was unsuccessful, and the Hubei Higher People's Court upheld the original judgment, his lawyer Xie Yanyi told RFA on Tuesday.
"He said he wanted to appeal because he couldn't accept that outcome," Xie said. "There was no hearing for the appeal; the court brought the proceedings to his detention center."
"They were just going through the motions," he said. "The chances of the defendant or their defense attorney managing to overturn a conviction in these political cases are negligible. It's extremely difficult, because the case itself is a form of political persecution, and was brought to achieve a political aim ... to meet political or ideological needs."
Xie said Liu has suffered psychologically from the extreme pressure put on him to "confess" to the charges against him while in detention, and the harassment and threats targeting his close family.
"[Liu] has been the target of threats all along, but they were just aimed at him; they also targeted his family and relatives," he said. "They have been subjected to various levels of interference and violence."
"For example, his wife's job, his child's schooling and application to university," he said. "Also, they have been stepping up the pressure on his parents, making them comply with the requirements of the stability maintenance regime."
'Hostile foreign forces'
Liu's mother Ding Qihua was unwilling to give an interview when contacted by RFA on Tuesday.
"He's OK, he didn't say anything much," Ding said. "Your concern hasn't really helped much."
Calls to the cell phones of Liu's wife and sister rang unanswered on Tuesday.
Repeated calls to the Suizhou Detention Center, where Liu is being held, rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.
Liu was accused at his trial last year of “attacking the current political system,” “defaming the Chinese government,” and “spreading information harming state power and the Socialist system” through the articles and reports he published.
Volunteers at the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch offices had previously said that Liu also stands accused of receiving overseas funding to run the group.
President Xi Jinping has repeatedly warned against "hostile foreign forces" attempting to overthrow the ruling Chinese Communist Party by infiltrating China with "Western" religious practices and ideas like democracy, constitutional government, and human rights.
Liu, 49, has been targeted for police harassment since he founded Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch in 2006, and has been routinely detained or placed under house arrest during politically sensitive events.
Liu was initially detained on Nov. 17, 2016, and placed under criminal investigation for "incitement to subvert state power."
Liu was among more than 300 lawyers, law firm staff, rights activists, and relatives who were detained, questioned, or placed under surveillance or other restrictions in a nationwide police operation targeting the legal profession and related activists launched in July 2015.
Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Han Qing for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.