Rights Advocate Xu Zhiyong Indicted

Beijing prosecutors have indicted New Citizens’ Movement civil society activist Xu Zhiyong according to his lawyer, in accordance with a police recommendation issued last week. From Andrew Jacobs at The New York Times:

The lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, said he expected the charges would be identical to those recommended last week by the police, primarily that Mr. Xu helped “assemble a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.” The charges carry up to five years in prison.

[…] Mr. Xu has maintained his defiance behind bars, and Mr. Zhang said his client welcomed the opportunity to stand trial, even if his chances for acquittal were almost nil. “Xu doesn’t think his behavior is a crime and believes it constitutes a citizen’s rational push for social improvement,” Mr. Zhang said in an interview. “He told me, ‘If you insist on bringing my trial to the nation’s consciousness, then I’ll calmly accept the honor.’ ”

[…] Mr. Zhang expressed frustration with the way the authorities have handled the case so far. In comments he posted online Friday evening, he noted the unusual speed with which prosecutors issued their indictment, which was based on 129 case files that they had received from the police a week earlier. In one barbed comment, he questioned how officials could have read all the documents given that his office was still in the process of having them photocopied. “Why don’t you at least have some decency?” he wrote. [Source]

The police recommendation included the novel accusation of “severely disturbing order in…public spaces on the Internet,” following a recent judicial interpretation that expands the definition of public space to include online venues. Xu won a place this week on Foreign Policy’s 2013 Global Thinkers list, alongside fellow New Citizen Wang Gongquan and rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang on one hand, and premier Li Keqiang and anti-corruption tsar Wang Qishan on the other. Pu was on the defense team for three other New Citizens who stood trial last week in Jiangxi, where he reported scenes of violence and intimidation outside the courthouse.