A Chinese court sentenced writer Li Tie to 10 years in prison for subversion on Wednesday after he wrote essays urging people to defend their rights, according to a relative. From Reuters:
The court in Wuhan in central China tried Li Tie in April last year but only declared him guilty on Tuesday of “subversion of state power ,” the relative , who declined to be named for fear of retribution, told Reuters by telephone.
The charge is more serious than the one of incitement, often used against critics of the ruling Communist Party.
“He said in court: ‘I’m not guilty. When have I subverted state power?'” the relative said.
“The state has made this conclusion against him,” the relative said. “You can’t understand it. Under these circumstances, you’re helpless. But this is our reality. He sat in front of the computer subverting state power.'”
Li becomes the third activist in less than a month to receive a long jail sentence for online writings, as the Chinese government continues to tighten its grip on free expression amid concerns over the domestic fallout from last year’s Arab Spring protests. His family told the Associated Press that the court in Wuhan refused to allow Li to choose his own lawyer and instead appointed one for him:
“From the beginning to the end, it has been all nonsense,” said the family member. “The question of subverting state power does not exist.”
Li will appeal the sentence if the family is able to hire a lawyer, the relative said.
A man at the Wuhan court office who answered the phone hung up as soon as he heard the caller was from The Associated Press. Subsequent calls rang unanswered.
As The New York Times reported Tuesday, the pipeline of cases against dissidents remains robust: Officials have charged Zhu Yufu, a writer and democracy advocate, with subversion in Hangzhou over a poem he wrote last year:
The poem at the heart of the indictment, “It’s Time,” appears to have drawn the authorities’ attention for its timing around the Jasmine Revolution controversy. By one translation, it states, in part:
It’s time, Chinese people!
The square is ours,
The feet are ours,
It’s time to use our feet to go to the square and make a choice.