China Jails Citizen Activist For Five Years on Subversion Charge

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Liu Jiacai was initially detained by police in Hubei’s Yichang city on Aug. 3, 2013.

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hubei on Monday handed a five-year jail term to an anti-corruption activist for subversion, after he organized gatherings to discuss human rights and social justice, and tweeted in support of a fellow activist.

Liu Jiacai was sentenced by the Yichang Intermediate People’s Court to five years’ imprisonment for “incitement to subvert state power,” his second jail term on the same charge, his wife and lawyer told RFA.

“The sentence was too harsh, and was the maximum possible,” Liu’s lawyer Wu Kuiming said after the sentencing hearing in Yichang, which took place Monday morning local time.

“There are two categories of ‘incitement to subvert state power,’ and the maximum penalty in the first category is five years,” Wu said.

“He clearly wasn’t a ringleader, nor were the specifics of the case very serious, so he came under the first category,” he said.

Wu said Liu, who was held in the police-run Yichang No. 1 Detention Center ahead of the sentencing, had rejected the guilty verdict in a post-hearing meeting with his lawyer, and plans to appeal.

“He told me that while he can endure the deprivations of detention, he feels terribly guilty about his family,” Wu said.

“His wife understands him deeply, and is supportive of him, but he feels he has let her down by being unable to give her any financial support,” he said.

“He was weeping as he told me this.”

The couple also has a grown daughter, who has a job, Wu added.

Liu’s wife Wang Yulan, who attended the sentencing hearing on Monday, said it lasted just 10 minutes.

“I think the sentence was too harsh; I didn’t think it would be so heavy,” Wang said.

“We will definitely be appealing. If he doesn’t, I will,” she said.

Wang said Liu had been handed a heavier jail term than New Citizens’ Movement founder Xu Zhiyong or prominent rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi.

“I really find this unacceptable [because] his actions had no [ill] effects on society,” she said.

“All he did was post some stuff online.”

Liu’s detention came after he retweeted a microblog post in support of Shandong-based civil rights activist Li Xiangyang, activists said at the time.

Wang added: “It only took 10 minutes, and when they were done sentencing him, they took him away.”

“They didn’t even allow the lawyers to speak.”

Active in the movement

Liu was initially detained by police in Hubei’s Yichang city after becoming active in the “New Citizens’ Movement” in August 2013 and charged with “incitement to subvert state power” after completing a 10-day administrative sentence handed down by police.

Liu had recently become active in China’s nascent New Citizens’ Movement targeting officials for graft and demanding they reveal their assets.

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