A court in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan has handed a two-and-a-half year jail term to a prominent political activist for supporting a call for direct elections to choose the head of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Huang Xiaomin was handed the two year, six-month prison sentence by the Jinniu District People's Court in Sichuan's provincial capital, Chengdu, which found him guilty of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," a charge commonly used to target peaceful critics of the government.
Xie Deping, Huang's former defense attorney, said the sentence came after Huang agreed to plead guilty to the charge.
A source familiar with the case said the charge had been based on interviews given by Huang to foreign media organizations, in which he allegedly "attacked the government."
"The police brought the charges based on things he has said via Radio Free Asia, Independent Chinese PEN, the Tianwang [rights] website and various other online media since 2013," the source said.
"[They accused him of] spreading false information and attacking society, the government and the rule of law, with serious consequences both in China and overseas," the source said.
Police also submitted a number of social media posts made by Huang in evidence, including posts about miscarriages of justice and government corruption, the source said.
Huang was forced to fire Xie, who had been engaged to defend him, in April, the source said.
"This was because the investigating agencies, either the court or the police, told him he'd get treated leniently if he fired [his lawyer]," the source said. "That's why he received a fairly light sentence."
Huang's brother Huang Minqing declined to comment when contacted by RFA for comment on Monday.
"Sorry, I can't take your call," he said. "I have nothing to say."
Huang Xiaomin was tracked down to the Chengdu Detention Center after being detained for more than three months with no notification to his family or access to a lawyer.
Political analysts have previously said that Huang's case is closely linked to a nationwide crackdown on any form of dissenting opinion under President Xi Jinping, who is currently serving an indefinite term in office following constitutional changes passed by the National People's Congress in 2018.
Huang has previously served a two-and-a-half-year sentence for "gathering a crowd to disrupt social order," handed down in April 2010 for his part in a protest outside a court in February 2009.
Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.