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Legal activist sentenced for four years’ jail in China

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Noted Chinese legal activist Xu Zhiyong was sentenced to four years’ jail on Sunday for his role in organizing protests, a court said, furthering a crackdown on a rights movement he championed

China.jpegBeijing: Noted Chinese legal activist Xu Zhiyong was sentenced to four years’ jail on Sunday for his alleged role in organizing protests, a court said, furthering a crackdown on a rights movement he championed.

Xu is among those 10 activists facing trial for disrupting public order, a charge that carries a maximum five-year sentence, after they held banners in public urging authorities to disclose their assets as a check against graft.

Xu, lawyer by profession, was the central figure in the New Citizens Movement, an informal network of activists which was organizing street protests and dinner discussions on various causes comprising of educational equality, official corruption, etc.

Reacting to Xu’s sentence, The United States said that it was “deeply disappointed” by the imprisonment. “We call on Chinese authorities to release Xu and other political prisoners immediately, cease restrictions on their freedom of movement, and guarantee them the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Amnesty International, a human rights’ organization, mentioned the verdict as “shameful”. “The Chinese authorities have once again opted for the rule of fear over the rule of law,” Roseann Rife, Director, East Asia research, Amnesty International, said in a statement.

Xu was the first to be sentenced in the case and the other activists are almost certain to be found guilty by China’s politically controlled courts.

His jailing comes as new leaders under President Xi Jinping have also carried out a high-profile campaign against graft, warning it could destroy the ruling Communist party of China.

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