Late last year, rights lawyer Xie Yang gave a graphic and detailed account to his lawyer, Chen Jiangang, of the mistreatment he has suffered while in detention. Xie was detained in July 2015 as part of a broader crackdown on rights lawyers and activists and he has since been charged with “inciting subversion of state power,” but has not yet been tried. In recent days, state media in China has launched a campaign blaming lawyer Jiang Tianyong for fabricating news about Xie’s treatment, calling the reports “fake news,” a phrase recently used by President Trump but also commonly employed by Chinese authorities to counter reporting they don’t like. Jiang has been missing since November 2016 when he met with Xie’s family and lawyers in Changsha, Hunan.
CCTV recently posted an interview with Jiang in which he “confesses” to fabricating the reports about Xie’s situation. Global Times also interviewed Jiang, while neither his lawyers nor family have been allowed to see him. Hong Kong Free Press has translated the CCTV interview:
Patrick Poon, researcher at Amnesty International, told HKFP it is “very strange and incomprehensible” that Jiang was able to be interviewed by Global Times reporters while he has no access to a lawyer of his own choice or to his family.
“Many of the claims in the Global Times and Xinhua reports are contradictory in the time[line] of Jiang Tianyong’s detention and Xie Yang’s accounts,” he said.
“It’s extremely worrying that the mainland Chinese media are using this same old trick to try to discredit the lawyers and now even try to discredit western media coverage by branding them as ‘fake news’.” [Source]
Public confessions via official media have become a regular feature in the “709” crackdown on lawyers and activists which started in early July 2015. Lawyer Wang Yu and legal assistant Zhao Wei were “interviewed” by Chinese or Hong Kong media, even when their families and lawyers did not have access to them. Such televised confessions have been widely criticized by human rights groups as they generally occur before the detainee has been tried and sometimes before he or she has had access to legal counsel.
Meanwhile, in an effort to counter the government media’s claim that reports of Xie’s torture were “cleverly orchestrated lies,” Xie’s lawyer Chen Jiangang has provided a detailed account of how he received the information from Xie. China Change has translated:
From the afternoon of the January 4th (Wednesday) until Saturday afternoon, we made the transcript. Because of the character input method I was using, it was easy to input time — I hit ‘s’ and ‘j’ and it would give a timestamp, so I’d output the time at the beginning and end of the sessions.
Men don’t cry easy. But over those three days, Xie Yang and I both shed tears regularly, again showing the effect of an evil system in destroying human nature, as well as the sins and tragic brutality that come along with government power that acts with impunity. During the sleepless nights that followed I would recall scenes from our conversation. Xie Yang, in his prison garb, mussed hair, scraggly beard, exhausted with no lustre in his eyes, described how he worried that he’d be beaten to death and that his family wouldn’t know where he died. As he wept, I reached out to him and began weeping too. When describing how the security agent Yin Zhuo and others threatened the lives of his wife and daughter, saying they were going to stage a car accident to kill them, Xie Yang cried again. I stopped typing and thumped the table hard and repeatedly with a closed fist.
By Friday morning the transcript of the first interview was finished, and Xie Yang I went over it. After lunch I made a copy at a copyshop outside the detention center and asked Xie Yang to sign it when I saw him in the afternoon.
This was how the first transcript came about. [Source]
Supporters are now concerned about Chen’s safety following his involvement in the case:
Danger imminent, lawyer #ChenJiangang states: I'll never commit suicide; under duress I may say things against my will; help my wife & kids. https://t.co/T1MWOyug2C
— Yaxue Cao (@YaxueCao) March 3, 2017