Chinese Police Threaten Wife of Incommunicado Lawyer With Subversion Charge

china-xuyan3-040218.jpg Xu Yan, wife of detained rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, is shown in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Human Rights Defenders

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu on Sunday questioned the wife of detained Beijing human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng on suspicion of subversion, RFA has learned.

Xu Yan was detained on Sunday morning and questioned by state security police in Jiangsu's Xuzhou city on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," she told RFA following her release.

Xu's cell phone was confiscated, and she was taken away and questioned for more than seven hours, she said.

"I was just taking my kid out to have some fun this morning, as it's Sunday, when we were stopped on the ground floor by police from Xuzhou's Tongshan district, who summoned me to the police station," Xu told RFA.

"They held me from around eight in the morning to 4.00 p.m.," she said. "I just got back home."

"They were questioning me in connection with possible charges of incitement to subvert state power," Xu said.

"The main thing they wanted was for me to stop speaking out [on behalf of Yu Wensheng]," she said.

Xu said the couple's young son had been shocked by her detention, which happened in front of him.

"When they summoned me, I gave my cell phone to my son, but they chased him and snatched it away from his hand," she said. "My son was really shocked by this."

"Yu Wensheng was detained while he was taking care of our son, and now I have been taken in for questioning in front of him," she said. "He is really upset, because this has happened a number of times now."

Xu said she is still more worried about Yu than about herself and the couple's son, however.

"Yu Wensheng has been held for more than two months without access to a meeting with a defense attorney," she said. "I am still more worried about him, because at least my son and I are free for the time being."

Risk of torture

Yu Wensheng is "at risk of torture" while he remains in incommunicado detention, London-based rights group Amnesty International has warned.

He was snatched away from his son by large numbers of police in a car park near his home and placed under criminal detention on Jan. 19, on suspicion of “obstructing public servants in the course of their duties," and was later transferred from Beijing to Jiangsu's Xuzhou city on a more serious charge of “incitement to subvert state power.”

Yu's wife Xu Yan and his two defense attorneys Chang Boyang and Xie Yang went to the Tongshan district police department in Xuzhou last week. but Xu was prevented from entering the building, while Chang and Xie went in to apply for a meeting with their client.

Chongqing-based rights lawyer He Wei said Xu has done nothing wrong in speaking out on her husband's behalf, and that questioning her on suspicion of subversion is legally problematic.

"As Yu's wife, the question is whether she should have the right to voice reasonable demands in a rational manner," He said. "She should, reasonably, be allowed to speak out."

"There is a legal problem with the persecution of someone who is expressing their emotional or humanitarian needs," he said. "There is also a moral and rational problem with it, and a humanitarian problem, too."

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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