The NYT reports that Chinese authorities sentenced democracy activist Liu Xianbin to ten years in prison for writing articles critical of the Chinese government:
A Chinese court sentenced one of the country’s most seasoned pro-democracy activists to 10 years in prison on Friday on charges that his writings slandered the ruling Communist Party and were part of an effort to end its monopoly on power, his lawyer said.
The activist, Liu Xianbin, 43, a resident of Sichuan Province who previously served nine years for organizing an outlawed political party, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power,” a grave charge often subject to broad interpretation by judicial authorities. The conviction was largely based on articles Mr. Liu wrote for overseas Chinese-language publications that advocate for human rights and democracy.
Rights groups say the unusually harsh sentence is another worrying sign that the government’s crackdown on dissent is growing. In recent weeks nearly two dozen writers, lawyers and civil society advocates have been detained on criminal charges and 11 more people have vanished into police custody.
The decision to sentence Liu Xianbin to ten years in prison demonstrates a fundamental disregard for the rule of law and human rights in China. The harsh sentence for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ is based on Mr. Liu’s writings that advocate for democracy and human rights, for which he is protected under the Chinese constitution.
The Chinese government should immediately and unconditionally release Liu Xianbin from prison, and heed the calls of the Chinese people for government transparency, an end to corruption, and respect for free expression in China.
Liu Xianbin had previously been imprisoned for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and for his efforts to promote democracy in China. He is also a public signatory of Charter 08, an online petition by Chinese citizens calling on the Chinese government to improve its policies on democracy and human rights. Charter 08 was co-authored by imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.