Pu Zhiqiang given three-year suspended sentence
On 22 December 2015, lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has been given a suspended three-year prison sentence. He had been found guilty of “picking quarrels” and “inciting ethnic hatred” after a series of social media posts, and stood trial in Beijing last week.
Pu Zhiqiang was arrested on May 4, 2014, after attending a meeting where the Tiananmen protests of 1989 were commemorated. Only in early May 2015, a year after his arrest, he learned what he is being charged with by the court in Beijing. The charges are ‘inciting ethnic hatred’ and ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’, following a number of messages from Pu social media platform Weibo.
Pu is mainly known for his cases in the field of freedom of expression. He is the figurehead of a group of Chinese lawyers who take on sensitive cases, such as the defense of individuals who have fallen out of favour within the Communist Party or are harassed by the government. He also defended the artist Ai Weiwei.
For years, Pu has been monitored by the Chinese authorities because of the freedom-of-expression cases he does and because of his political beliefs. In 1989, Pu joined the pro-democracy movement; In 2008, he signed Charter 08, which openly called for bringing about fundamental change in China, as an independent legal system, freedom of association, and the abolition of one-party rule. Following the publication of Charter 08 Pu Zhiqiang was summoned to report to the police, as well as after the announcement of the award of Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo.
Pu Zhiqiang was on the shortlist of the jury of the L4L-Award 2015.
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