Xu Zhiyong, was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail on charges of "gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place."
One of China's leading law scholars and rights advocates, Xu Zhiyong, was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail on charges of "gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place."
Mr. Xu is the founder of the New Citizens Movement, which sought moderate reforms to the education system. He is also a leading public advocate for fiscal transparency and fighting official corruption. The United States is concerned that the prosecution of Mr. Xu and other good-governance advocates is retribution for their public campaigns to expose official corruption and for the peaceful expression of their views.
"These prosecutions," said U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, "are the latest in a series of arrests of public interest lawyers, Internet activist journalists, religious leaders, and others who peacefully challenge official policies and actions in China."
Mr. Xu refused to speak in his defense during his trial in protest at how his case had been handled. He attempted to make a final statement, but was cut off by the judge who said his comments were "irrelevant." Foreign diplomats were barred from the court, and journalists were intimidated and mistreated by policemen outside.
Ambassador Locke said he was "deeply concerned that police mistreated foreign journalists who were covering the Xu Zhiyong trial. I urge Chinese authorities," he said, "to take measures to ensure that foreign reporters working in China are able to carry out their journalistic responsibilities."
The United States Government calls on Chinese authorities to release Xu and other political prisoners immediately, to cease any restrictions on their freedom of movement, and to guarantee them the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments.