China Moves Ahead With Subversion Trial of Rights Website Founder Liu Feiyue

2017-12-13
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Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website founder Liu Feiyue is shown in an undated photo.
Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website founder Liu Feiyue is shown in an undated photo.
Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hubei are moving ahead with the subversion trial of rights website founder Liu Feiyue after holding him for more than a year, RFA has learned.

Liu Feiyue, who founded the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website, was detained on Nov. 17, 2016 under criminal investigation for "incitement to subvert state power," by police in Hubei's Suizhou city and placed under formal arrest on Dec. 23.

The case was accepted by the Suizhou Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday, his defense attorney Wen Donghai told RFA.

"The case is now with the Suzhou Intermediate Court, but ... we haven't had the indictment yet; we'll have to wait a while for that," Wen said.

"There were no additional charges, and the only charge listed is that of incitement to subvert state power, according to my sources," he said.

A friend of Liu's who asked to remain anonymous said that a second charge, that of "leaking state secrets" linked to Liu's posting online of a local-level government document, was dropped by the state prosecutor's office.

"There is some good news; after Liu's family contacted the procuratorate, the procurator told them that the more serious charge had been dropped," the friend said.

He said the subversion charge was likely linked to an article on China's political system that Liu had posted to his website.

Regular police harassment

The article has now been deleted, and only articles about people's individual rights remain, he said.

Liu has been targeted for police harassment since he founded the group in 2006, and has been routinely detained or placed under house arrest during politically sensitive events.

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.

Under China's new cybersecurity law, the administration of President Xi Jinping has vowed to step up "monitoring, defending and handling cybersecurity risks and threats originating from within the country or overseas sources, and protecting key information infrastructure from attack, intrusion, disturbance and damage," according to the text of
the law.

The authorities increasingly use allegations of involvement by overseas organizations to target peaceful dissidents and rights activists.

Xi has repeatedly warned against "hostile foreign forces" attempting to overthrow Communist Party rule by infiltrating China with "Western" religious practices and ideas like democracy, constitutional government, and human rights.

More than 300 lawyers, law firm staff, rights activists, and relatives 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 Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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