Prominent civil rights lawyer Xia Lin has been put on trial in Beijing.

Xia, who represented artist Ai Weiwei’s company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development, was detained in 2014 and charged with fraud. Xia also represented human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was given a three year suspended sentence in 2015 for writing posts on the internet that the government deemed to be inciting ethnic hatred. He was believed to have been defending human rights activist Guo Yushuan before his detainment.

According to Reuters, journalists were barred entry from Beijing Number 2 People’s Intermediate Court, where the civil rights lawyer was put on trial. Supports and family members were seen waiting outside.

Reuters quotes William Nee, a researcher at Amnesty International in Hong Kong who discussed Xia defending Guo Yushan just before his detention.

“You know, he was trying to defend these people, and then he gets this accusation of fraud, illegal business activities,” Nee said. “Most people think that’s merely a pretence to silence him.”

Hua Chuying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that Xia’s case was outside of the Foreign Ministry’s remit and claimed she was unaware of the specific details, saying, “China is a country ruled by law… guarantee everyone’s legal rights according to law and handle their legal violations according to law.”

 

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