Pu Zhiqiang: Lawyer Shang Baojun’s Defense Statement

Following his trial on December 14, rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was given a three-year suspended sentence for “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” after spending 19 months in detention. Attorney defended Pu at his trial, where he delivered the following statement:

Additional Defense Statement for First Trial

Criminal Trial Court of the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court

Your Honors:

The facts, testimony, and application of the law just provided by Attorney have already made the defense’s standpoint abundantly clear. The defense has also provided the court with the expert legal advice of Jiang Ping, He Weifang, Zhang Qianfan, Guo Daohui, Tong Zhiwei, and Fan Zhongxin. This case is rather simple (7 Weibo posts), and enough has been said about it from the legal aspect. But I thank the presiding judge for giving me this opportunity to add a few words:

It is often said that the law cannot surpass reason, so I will talk about reason. On the 10th of this month I learned that the trial for this case would be held today, and on the 11th I hurried [here] to see. During that meeting, said, “I haven’t done criminal defense, so I don’t know how to refuse.” How this stirred me! “Since you went to prison, the world has been shaken!” According to the Global Times, Pu Zhiqiang is a “charismatic figure.” In 2013, he was honored as China’s legal person of the year for his many contributions to the end of re-education through labor. He has also paid attention to freedom of speech for a long time. Professor He Weifang calls Pu “the savior of defendants in right to reputation disputes.” In fact, it was in this very court, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court, that Pu successfully represented the defendant in the defamation suit Yu Qiuyu v. Xiao Xialin. This case is considered a significant step in the progress of rule of law in China. To a certain extent, it legally established the system of “public figures” in mainland China, under which the public figure must have a greater tolerance for scrutiny. I think Pu himself could not have imagined that seven measly Weibo posts—in my opinion, if a defamation suit is made based on these posts, then I’m afraid even civil suits will be unwinnable—he would be standing in the defendant’s box for a criminal case! “Though his writing was peerless, Confucius still had trouble in Chen. Though his military strategy was unmatched, Grand Duke Jiang still went fishing in the Weishui.” It is time, it is fate, it is destiny!

At any rate, this case will soon be settled. Pu Zhiqiang has already paid dearly for this. More than 19 months of detention have hurt his health, already weakened to begin with by diabetes. He has expressed sincere regret numerous times in court. As for whether he is guilty, I believe that everyone here already has the answer in their hearts. And I know that you all have obligations, that some things can’t be avoided. It is just that, as people of the law in contemporary China, we must all face history in the end. In an instant, we will be in awe of the starry skies above us and the moral law within us! Once again, I sincerely ask everyone to remember the burden of “raising your gun just past the border” and make a fair ruling. Even if he can’t keep his mouth shut, the details still ought to be trivial. Please avoid criminal punishment according to the law. For the sake of learned people everywhere, and especially for people involved in the law in China, please save a little face!

I beseech you!

Counsel: Attorney Shang Baojun, Beijing Mo Shaoping Law Firm

December 14, 2015 [Chinese]

Read more about the charges and evidence used against Pu, including the seven Weibo posts which the state used to convict him.

Translation by Anne Henochowicz.