China Defends Prolonged Detention of Pu Zhiqiang
Civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was detained in May 2014 after attending a gathering to mark the 25th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, military crackdown on protesters in Beijing. Several other participants were also detained but have since been released; Pu’s lawyer and niece, Qu Zhenhong, was detained a few days later and is still being held as part of the same case.
Pu’s case has been repeatedly delayed by the procuratorate, but the most recent delay will be the last, according to China Human Rights Defenders:
Pu’s lawyer has confirmed that this is the last action that authorities are permitted to do in order to prolong his detention, according to Chinese law. “He can either be sent to trial or freed” on May 20, the lawyer said. [Source]
Lawyers in Pu’s case believe that prosecutors haven’t found enough evidence to convict him. Radio Free Asia reported on May 4:
Pu, 50, is being charged with “incitement to subvert state power,” “incitement to separatism,” “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” and “illegally obtaining citizens’ information.”
But authorities have obstructed meetings with his lawyers, who have accused them of deliberately delaying Pu’s case to stretch out his detention.
“They are still deciding whether or not to take his case to court,” one of Pu’s defense lawyers, Mo Shaoping, told RFA.
“The opinion of his lawyers can be summarized in a single sentence,” he said. “We are of the opinion that the final result of the police investigation is that none of the four charges against Pu Zhiqiang will stand up.” [Source]
In late 2014, Pu’s lawyer Mo Shaoping told the media that prosecutors were considering the more serious charges relating to separatism and subversion based on a series of Weibo posts he wrote which referenced government policies in Xinjiang and Tibet. The 28 Weibo posts named by prosecutors were later released and partially translated by China Real Time.
On the anniversary of his detention, the U.S. State Department issued a statement calling for his release:
The United States remains deeply concerned that China continues to hold Pu Zhiqiang on allegations of “provoking disturbances,” “inciting ethnic hatred,” “separatism,” and “illegally obtaining personal information.” We are also troubled by reports that he has not enjoyed prompt access to counsel and other procedural safeguards and has been subjected to harsh conditions and denied access to proper medical treatment.
We reiterate our call on China to release and remove all restrictions on Pu Zhiqiang, and to respect his rights in accordance with China’s international human rights commitments. [Source]
The next day, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson responded in a routine press conference. From the transcript:
Q: US State Department Spokesperson Jeff Rathke issued a statement on May 6, saying that the US remains deeply concerned about China’s detention of Pu Zhiqiang which has lasted for one year, and reiterating their call on China to release him. What is China’s comment on that?
A: It seems to me that some people in the US always want to play world police or judge, trying to reach as far as they can. As is known to all, the US is facing a lot of problems inside its own country. It is better for the US to give priority to and concentrate its efforts on domestic affairs.
China is a country under the rule of law. The judicial authorities of China handle the relevant case in accordance with the law. We call on the American side to discard the double standard, be discreet with words and deeds and stop meddling with China’s judicial sovereignty and domestic affairs in any form. [Source]
Read more about Pu Zhiqiang, via CDT.