New York, March 1, 2005 – Authorities in Shanghai have suspended the law license of Guo Guoting, defense attorney for three jailed journalists as well as a number of other dissidents and members of the Falun Gong religious sect. The suspension throws into question the defense of imprisoned writers Shi Tao, Zhang Lin and Huang Jinqiu.
The Shanghai Department of Justice on February 23 issued notice of a one-year suspension of Guo’s license to practice law, the lawyer told the Committee to Protect Journalists. The notice cited articles he has posted online criticizing the Communist Party. But Guo told CPJ that he believed he has been punished for taking up controversial cases involving freedom of expression and religion. City and district authorities have regularly warned Guo to stop his advocacy of political prisoners such as the imprisoned writers, he said.
“Journalists Shi Tao, Zhang Lin and Huang Jinqiu are in jail today because they wrote or distributed essays that offended the political leadership,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said today. “The suspension of their defense attorney’s license, apparently for related reasons, points again to the failure of the Chinese government to accommodate criticism or to ensure adequate legal protection for those who express dissent.”