The trial of one of China’s most high-profile human rights lawyers lasted just three hours Monday.
Pu Zhiqiang (蒲志強), who has spent nearly 19 months in detention, faces up to eight years in prison if convicted on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and provoking trouble, Shang Baojun, one of his lawyers, said.
As many as 11 diplomats from countries including the United States, Germany and France congregated near the courthouse seeking to observe the trial. Police refused them admittance, Reuters reported.
Dozens of police and plainclothes security surrounded the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, where they blocked foreign journalists attempting to report on the trial.
China has charged many rights activists with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
The main accusations against Pu revolve around seven microblog posts on his online accounts, his lawyers say.
The posts criticized China’s ethnic policy in the troubled region of Xinjiang and denounced several officials.
“He admitted the seven microblogs were written by him, there was no issue with it, this is a fact,” Mo Shaoping, another of his lawyers said, recounting Pu’s testimony.
“Secondly, he said that if these microblog posts had caused injury to other people, he apologizes for it.
“Thirdly, he had no intention to incite ethnic hatred or pick quarrels and provoke trouble.”
Pu, 50, has represented many well-known dissidents, including artist Ai Weiwei and activists of the New Citizens’ Movement, a group that has called on Chinese leaders to make their wealth public.
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