Chen Wei Sentenced to 9 Years for Online Essays (Updated)

Sichuan dissident writer Chen Wei is to stand trial in Suining on Friday, pleading not guilty to charges of inciting subversion of state power. (See update below.) From Reuters:

Chen, 42, was one of hundreds of dissidents, rights activists and protest organizers swept up in a crackdown on dissent from earlier this year, when the ruling Communist Party sought to stifle potential protests inspired by anti-authoritarian uprisings across the Arab world …. Chen’s defense lawyer, Liang Xiaojun, confirmed that Chen is accused of “inciting subversion of state power” for 26 essays he published online and for an overseas magazine …. Chen, who was detained February, signed the “Charter 08″ manifesto for democratic reform that was co-written by Liu Xiaobo, the jailed dissident who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Two other dissidents from Sichuan detained at about the same as Chen — Ran Yunfei and Ding Mao — have been released.

Human Rights in China has more details and background:

The procuratorate charged in its indictment that, between March 2009 and January 2011, Chen published “inciting articles” on overseas websites, including Democratic China (民主中国), Human Rights in China (中国人权), and China E-Weekly (议报), to subvert state power. The articles cited in the indictment include “The Illness of the System and the Antidote of Constitutional Democracy” (制度之疾与宪政民主之药), “The Growth of the Civil Opposition Is the Key to China’s Democratization” (民间反对派的成长是中国民主化的关键要素), “The Traps of Harmony and the Absence of Equality” (和谐的陷阱与公平的缺席), and “Sentiments from a Hunger Striker on International Human Rights Day” (人权日绝食的感悟) …. Chen has not been permitted to see his family since being detained. His wife, Wang Xiaoyan (王晓燕), and other family members have been repeatedly summoned and harassed by the police, who warned their employers to “watch out for these people.” Authorities also attempted to keep Wang from hiring Liang Xiaojun as defense counsel and then set various obstacles to prevent Chen from meeting with his lawyers—to date, Chen has been able to meet with Zheng Jianwei only twice and with Liang Xiaojun once. Chen’s wife, brother, and sister have also not yet received permits to attend Chen’s trial.

See also news of Chen’s formal charging in March, via CDT.

Update: Chen received a sentence of nine years’ imprisonment, according to The Associated Press:

Liang [Xiaojun] said the trial at a court in the city of Suining in southwestern China lasted about two and a half hours and that the sentence was handed down 30 minutes after the trial concluded.

“We pleaded not guilty. He only wrote a few essays. We presented a full defense of the case, but we were interrupted often, and none of what we said was accepted by the court,” Liang said.

Liang said that after the sentence was handed down, Chen said: “I protest, I am innocent. The governance of democracy must win, autocracy must die.”