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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chinese Activist Gets 11 Years in Jail

BEIJING -- A Beijing court on Wednesday sentenced dissident and former student leader Wang Dan to 11 years in prison, the latest hammer-blow struck by China against its tiny band of pro-democracy activists.


The Beijing Number One Intermediate People's Court took less than four hours to convict Wang of plotting to subvert the government, but the young dissident's family quickly denounced the verdict and vowed to appeal.


"We are angry. ... He received such a heavy sentence even though he was innocent," Wang's father, Wang Xianzeng, said in a telephone interview after a brief meeting with his son at a Beijing detention center.


"Wang Dan said he wants to appeal," he said. "Wang Dan feels everything that he has done has been above-board ... it was all for China's democratization."


Wang, 27, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and deprived of his political rights for a further two years, the Xinhua news agency said in a long report hailing the fairness of the trial.


"Sufficient evidence, which includes written materials, witness accounts, recorded tape and criminal technical appraisal, were shown at the court," the official agency cited the trial's chief judge as saying. "The evidence is conclusive," it quoted the verdict as saying. "[Wang] instigated people by saying that 'It is time we turn our words into actions.'"


Wang, who vanished into detention in May 1995, had faced a maximum penalty of death and a minimum 10-year prison term.


One of the student leaders of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing that were crushed by the army, Wang had been one of the few members of China's dwindling band of dissidents not in exile or serving a long term in detention or prison.


A spate of arrests and detentions in recent months has left the pro-democracy movement reeling, analysts say.


New York-based rights group Human Rights in China denounced the verdict as the result of a show trial that blatantly violated Chinese law and international standards.


Scores of police enforced tight security around the court building in western Beijing, keeping foreign journalists well away from a trial billed by officials as open to the public.


Less than 20 observers had been allowed in the court, said Wang's father, who was allowed to attend along with the dissident's older sister.


"Not one witness was summoned," he said. "The judge did not uphold the justice and dignity of the law. ... How can writing articles constitute a crime?"


The family would have 10 days to appeal upon receiving official notification of the verdict in about five days' time, he said, adding they were not optimistic the verdict would be overturned.


Wang's father said his son's health had deteriorated during more than 15 months in detention, but added the activist believed he had done nothing to be ashamed of.


"He has a clear conscience," the father said.