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27 Apr 2017

ALAN WONG, New York Times

China: Human Rights Lawyer Li Heping gets suspended prison sentence after being convicted of subversion charges

…One of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers [Li Heping] was given a suspended three-year prison sentence…after being convicted of subversion charges. Li…has been in detention since 2015, received a four-year reprieve, a court in Tianjin said... The sentence means Mr. Li will be released, but it effectively prevents him from practicing law in the near future, rights groups said. During Mr. Li’s detention, the authorities harassed his family and prevented his wife, Wang Qiaoling, from seeking legal representation… [A] researcher…said the threat of a return to detention meant that Mr. Li and his family would continue to endure uncertainty. “He and his family are effectively prisoners for the next four years...”

Mr. Li has represented some of China’s best-known dissidents and rights activists… [He also represented cases concerning forced eviction and land acquisition. One of Mr. Li’s high-profile clients was the blind legal advocate Chen Guangcheng]… He was detained in 2015…during an expansive crackdown on dissent that targeted more than 250 lawyers, legal assistants and activists...

The…court…said Mr. Li had endangered national security and social stability by “attacking” the government and had “colluded” with religious activists and lawyers with “subversive ideologies.” The trial was held behind closed doors because it involved state secrets, …Mr. Li…would not appeal...