Miss­ing Chi­nese ac­tivist ‘gave away state se­crets’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BEIJING: A prom­i­nent Chi­nese hu­man rights lawyer who had been miss­ing for al­most a month was held in po­lice cus­tody and “con­fessed” to hand­ing over state se­crets, of­fi­cial me­dia said. Jiang Tiany­ong took on nu­mer­ous high-pro­file cases, in­clud­ing those of Falun Gong prac­ti­tion­ers, Ti­betan pro­test­ers and vic­tims of the 2008 con­tam­i­nated milk pow­der scan­dal be­fore be­ing dis­barred for his ac­tivism in 2009, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign group Amnesty In­ter­na­tional. He dis­ap­peared on Novem­ber 21 en route to Beijing from Chang­sha, the cap­i­tal of the cen­tral prov­ince of Hu­nan, where he had gone to in­quire about the sit­u­a­tion of a de­tained hu­man rights lawyer.

On Fri­day a Com­mu­nist Party news­pa­per re­ported that he had been ar­rested af­ter us­ing another per­son’s doc­u­ments to board the train and was held in ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ten­tion for nine days. “In­ves­ti­ga­tions showed... that he was in pos­ses­sion of doc­u­ments con­tain­ing state se­crets and was in con­tact with for­eign struc­tures, or­ga­ni­za­tions and per­sons, and il­le­gally handed over state se­crets abroad,” the web­site of Fazhi Ribao (Le­gal Daily) said, cit­ing po­lice sources.

The news­pa­per re­ported that since De­cem­ber 1, Jiang had been sub­ject to a “crim­i­nal co­er­cive mea­sure”-a vague term which in­di­cates a re­stric­tion on free­dom of move­ment. “Jiang Tiany­ong con­fessed the rel­e­vant crimes,” the daily added. Forced con­fes­sions are com­mon in China, where courts are over­seen by the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party.

UN Spe­cial Re­porter on ex­treme poverty and hu­man rights Philip Al­ston met Jiang on a visit to China in August and said last week he feared the dis­ap­pear­ance was in part a re­tal­i­a­tion against the lawyer’s as­sis­tance to UN ex­perts.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has over­seen a tight­en­ing of con­trols on civil so­ci­ety since as­sum­ing power in 2012, clos­ing av­enues for le­gal ac­tivism that had opened up in re­cent years. While the govern­ment ini­tially tar­geted po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists and hu­man rights cam­paign­ers, it has in­creas­ingly turned its at­ten­tion to the lawyers who rep­re­sent them.

In the most strik­ing ex­am­ple, au­thor­i­ties de­tained more than 200 peo­ple last year dur­ing the so-called “709 crack­down”-named af­ter the July 9th date of the roundup-in­clud­ing lawyers who took on civil rights cases con­sid­ered sen­si­tive by the rul­ing party.

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