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China releases human rights lawyer after 'show trial'

Xie Yang, who was arrested in 2015, pleaded guilty to charges of “inciting subversion of state power”.

Xie Yang at the trial
Xie Yang at the trial
Image: Ng Han Guan/AP

CHAIN HAS FREED a prominent human rights lawyer on bail, Amnesty International said today, after he admitted to his crimes in what critics called a show trial.

Xie Yang, who had worked on cases considered politically sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party, was among hundreds of legal staff and activists detained in the so-called “709 crackdown” in 2015.

He pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of “inciting subversion of state power” during a one-day trial in central China.

The rights group said Xie was released on bail even though a verdict had not been announced, describing the sequence of events as “unusual”.

“While it is a relief that Xie Yang is no longer in detention, it doesn’t diminish the fact that he should never have been arrested in the first place,” Amnesty International’s China researcher Patrick Poon said.

Alleged beatings

Xie previously claimed police had subjected him to “sleep deprivation, long interrogations, beatings, death threats, humiliations”.

However, he told Changsha Intermediate People’s Court that authorities had upheld his rights and he had not been subjected to torture of any kind. The United States and the European Union have voiced concern over his case.

Eleven countries, including Canada, Australia and Switzerland, have cited Xie’s case in a letter to Beijing criticising China’s detention practices.

Xie’s wife has fled China and is currently in the United States where she told AFP she was hoping to obtain asylum for herself and their two daughters.

© AFP 2017

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