US Calls for Release of Housing Activist & Husband

US ambassador Gary Locke has urged Chinese authorities to release housing rights activist Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin, who were sentenced last week to prison terms of two years and eight months and two years, respectively. He took the unusual step of speaking out on an individual case “in light of past abuses she has suffered”: during previous detentions, she says, guards urinated in her face and beat her so severely that she can no longer walk unaided. From The Wall Street Journal:

In a statement released Monday, Gary Locke called on authorities to release Ni Yulan and her husband, Dong Jiqin. Ms. Ni, 52 years old, was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison by a Beijing court on April 10 for fraud and “creating a disturbance.” Her husband was sentenced by the same court to two years in prison, also for creating a disturbance ….

Mr. Locke also expressed concern for the pair’s daughter, Dong Xuan, urging Chinese authorities to “cease any restrictions on the freedoms of [Ms. Ni and Mr. Dong’s] family members.”

At a daily briefing on Monday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin rejected the call. “We hope relevant countries will respect China’s judicial sovereignty,” he said in response to a question about Mr. Locke’s statement.