The case of the well-known activist, detained for over 20 months without trial, has worsened. Despite his detention, he is reportedly in good health. A critic of Xi Jinping, he will not plead guilty. The same charge has been brought against Ding Jiaxi, another human rights lawyer linked to the New Citizens Movement founded by Xu.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – The case against prominent human rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong has worsened. The former law professor at Peking University is now accused of planning a “coloured revolution” to overthrow state power, the South China Morning Post reported today, citing an official indictment dating back to August.
Xu has been in prison for more than 20 months and is awaiting trial. Previously, the judicial authorities had sent him to trial for the lesser offence of “inciting subversion against state power”. He is being held in Linshu prison (Shandong). An anonymous source told the Post that Xu is in good health and in high spirits.
The activist said he would not plead guilty, believing that ‘a better China will come if all citizens live according to the true spirit of citizenship’. He is allowed to talk to his lawyer by videoconference every three weeks, but cannot meet his family. His case is classified as a threat to national security, which is why his lawyers cannot address the media.
On the run for some time after attending a meeting with democracy activists in Xiamen (Fujian) in December 2019, Xu was arrested on 15 February 2020 in Guangzhou (Guangdong) during a “health check” for Covid-19. The academic, founder of the New Citizens Movement, is a well-known critic of the Chinese Communist Party. He was already imprisoned in January 2014, serving a four-year sentence, for his ideas in defence of democracy, and for exposing the corruption of China’s leaders.
In early February last year, Xu published an article on the web claiming that Xi was ‘unable to handle’ the coronavirus crisis. He alleged that the regime’s clampdown on freedom of expression had contributed to the uncontrolled spread of the lung infection. For the activist, the Chinese president has also failed to deal with the tariff war with the US and the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
According to the Linyi Prosecutor’s Office, Xu tried to overthrow the Party’s power in a peaceful way by organising a “citizens’ movement” together with his colleague Ding Jiaxi, who is also in prison and awaiting trial on the same charges. The two activists are said to have been inspired by the colourful revolutions that broke out in the early years of the new century in former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
Li Qiaochu, Xu’s girlfriend, has also been imprisoned for some time. She is accused of inciting subversion against the state. Other activists linked to Xu are in prison: Zhang Zhongshun, Dai Zhenya, Li Yingjun and Chang Weiping.