China sentences activist to 10 years in prison for subversion, relative says

A woman holds banners denouncing China's government and the detention of mainland dissidents in Hong Kong on April 3, 2011.

Story highlights

  • Police arrest Li Tie, 52, in late 2010 for his pro-democracy writings
  • Prosecutors charge him with subversion based on his writings
  • Li pleads not guilty, says his words are protected by the Constitution
Chinese authorities sentenced a democracy activist to 10 years in prison for subversion, a relative said Thursday, the third dissident found guilty of similar charges in less than a month.
A court in Wuhan sentenced Li Tie, 52, for "subversion of state power," according to a relative who did not want to be named for fear of punishment.
"Nothing in the world could prepare our family for this outcome; the tears from his mother's eyes haven't stopped running," the relative said in a phone interview. "This trial was never about the law; it has been about human decency -- the lack of it."
Li was arrested in 2010 for pro-democracy articles that prosecutors said criticized the government, and tried in April last year, the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said in a statement.
Calls to the Wuhan court went unanswered on Wednesday.
Li pleaded not guilty, saying his words were in accordance with the Constitution, which allows all Chinese citizens a right to freedom of expression. Family members said they plan to appeal the 10-year sentence.
"We can't just let it happen," the relative said. "Even if there is no hope, we have to make a stand and appeal."
A lawyer his family attempted to hire earlier this year said he was not allowed to comment on the trial after he was kicked off the case and the activist forced to accept a government-appointed lawyer.
China's recent crackdown on activists and dissidents comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Jasmine protests, when hundreds participated in anti-government rallies nationwide.
Police detained dozens of activists who urged the Chinese to launch an Arab Spring-style revolution.
Chinese courts sentenced two other activists for subversion after their published works called for protests and freedom of speech.
Last month, writer Cheng Wei was sentenced to nine years in prison for publishing essays calling for reform of the nation's one-party system.
Another activist, Chen Xi, got a 10-year sentence for subversion this month.