Four New Citizen Activists Sentenced

Four members of the New Citizens Movement civil rights and anti-corruption group received prison sentences on Friday, Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee reports:

Ding Jiaxi was sentenced to three-and-a-half years, Zhao Changqing got a two-and-a-half year sentence and Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng got two-year terms, the Haidian court in Beijing said on its microblog. They were charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

But Sui Muqing, a lawyer representing Ding, said the real reason for the convictions was that the activists had pressed for government officials to disclose their assets.

“It’s nothing but an announcement to the world that we can’t mention asset disclosure and that calling on officials to disclose their assets is a crime,” Sui told Reuters by telephone. [Source]

Sui walked out of Ding’s trial last week, calling it “unabashedly illegal.” Also last week, the New Citizens’ cofounder Xu Zhiyong lost an appeal against his own four-year sentence. Despite these blows, many connected with the movement expressed defiant optimism.