Lawyer Blasts 'Deliberate' Delays in Pu Zhiqiang Subversion Case


2014.12.08
china-tiananmen-seminar-may-2014.jpg Pu Zhiqiang (front right) attends a seminar about the Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing, May 3, 2014.
Photo courtesy of CHRD

Authorities in the Chinese capital are continuing to deny top rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang any meeting with his lawyers, as state prosecutors move ahead with his subversion trial, his lawyer told RFA.

Pu, 49, is being charged with "incitement to subvert state power," "incitement to separatism," "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," and "illegally obtaining citizens' information."

But his defense attorney Mo Shaoping said he has continually been refused permission to visit his client in a Beijing detention center.

"They are doing this deliberately," Mo said. "They told us we had to wait until the lead prosecutor comes back from a business trip, but then they still dragged their feet and didn't make an appointment for me to see [Pu]."

He said it has been three weeks since Pu's case was transferred to the procuratorate, and yet he hasn't been allowed to review the evidence against his client.

"There is no good reason for refusing a lawyer permission to review case files," Mo said.

‘Special’ case

Mo said procuratorate officials called Pu's case "special."

Of course, they are going to say it's a special case, but that's still not a good reason," he said. "We didn't mince our words...we told them that."

"So no work can be done on a case if the prosecutor is out of town?"

But he said Pu's defense team will keep up the pressure on officials.

"We will continue to fire off lawyers' letters," Mo said.

Pu was initially detained in early May after around 20 human rights lawyers, academics, and family members of victims attended a seminar in Beijing where they called for a public inquiry into the June 4, 1989, crackdown on unarmed civilians at Tiananmen Square by the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Former 1989 Tiananmen activist Pu was later formally arrested, but on the lesser, public order charges. He has defended several high-profile human rights cases in recent years.

His arrest came as dozens of activists and family members of victims of the 1989 crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy movement were also detained ahead of the sensitive 25th anniversary of the bloodshed.

Mo is also defending outspoken Beijing-based journalist Gao Yu, who stood trial for "leaking state secrets overseas" on Nov. 21, and who was detained in secret on April 24, and formally arrested on May 30, during the same crackdown as Pu.

But Mo said it is unclear when a verdict and sentence will be announced following her four-hour trial at the Beijing No. 3 Intermediate People's Court, where she spoke in her own defense.

He said the verdict and sentence should be passed within two months of the trial, under criminal procedure law.

"If that hasn't happened, then they should apply for an extension," Mo said. "If they don't do that, then it will mean that the procuratorate has ordered further investigations to be carried out, or a retrial."

Another meeting

Gao's brother Gao Wei said she had met with another of her defense lawyers, Shang Baojun, on Nov. 24, shortly after the trial ended.

"Gao Yu was planning to write a statement in her own defense to give to the court," Gao Wei said on Monday. "She has already drafted it, but...the detention center staff would allow her to show the lawyer."

"That was out of line, because she is supposed to be guaranteed the right to discuss these things with her lawyer during their meetings," he added.

"That was illegal; there have been untold problems with Gao Yu's case," he said.

Gao, 70, was charged with "leaking state secrets overseas" after being detained in secret on April 24 and formally arrested on May 30.

She later appeared on the ruling Chinese Communist Party's state television channel CCTV, where she was shown, her face blurred on screen, apparently confessing to having obtained a highly confidential document and sending it to an overseas website.

But Gao's lawyers and family say she later retracted her video "confession," which was aired by state broadcaster CCTV as soon as her son was safely out of police custody.

According to her lawyers, her televised statement should have been struck from the record after Gao Yu made her second statement to the prosecution, Gao Wei said.

Gao also played an active part during the Tiananmen Square protests, and was detained  on June 3, 1989, as China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) moved tanks and troops into the heart of Beijing, putting an end to weeks of protests for greater democracy and rule of law.

She was released after 450 days, but was jailed again in November 1994 for "illegally providing state secrets to institutions outside China's borders" in connection with four articles she wrote in the Hong Kong-based Mirror Monthly magazine.

China's state secrets law covers a wide range of data from industrial information to death penalty statistics, and information can be designated a state secret retroactively.

But rights activists and journalists say the rules are based on a concept that is dangerously vague.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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