China appears to be stepping up its crackdown on human rights lawyers amid reports that several employees of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm have been charged with subversion and inciting subversion by Tianjin police.
According to the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, at least 14 lawyers and 22 civilians are still being detained by Chinese law enforcement agencies, Ming Pao Daily reported on Wednesday.
A series of operations that began last July saw nearly 300 human rights lawyers across several cities, including those from Fengrui, detained for investigation.
Foreign media have reported that many of the lawyers were being held under a criminal procedure known as “designated residential surveillance”, which usually means solitary confinement for up to six months in secret locations.
According to a tweet from a Fengrui employee on Tuesday, those arrested this month from the law firm were Zhou Shifeng, Wang Quanzhang, Li Shuyun, Zhao Wei and Xie Yanyi. Several of them have been charged with either subversion or inciting to subversion.
Zhao was charged with subversion after going through a six-month designated residential surveillance.
The charge of subversion is considered more severe than “inciting subversion of state power” slapped on Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
Under mainland laws, anyone found guilty of subversion could be sentenced to jail anywhere between three years and a lifetime.
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