China convicts 2 activists who supported Hong Kong protests

AP News
Posted: Mar 31, 2017 6:49 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Two Chinese rights activists who were detained after they supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014 were convicted and sentenced Friday on charges of inciting subversion of state power, their lawyer said.

The convictions of women's rights activist Su Changlan and online commentator Chen Qitang are the latest in an ongoing crackdown on civil society under President Xi Jinping. Su was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and Chen to four and a half years.

Their lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, said he believes their convictions were a direct result of photos and comments they posted in support of the Hong Kong protests. The court's verdict posted online by Liu doesn't mention Hong Kong, but makes clear they were convicted for making comments on social media that were critical of China's political system.

The two were detained during the Hong Kong protests and a crackdown in mainland China in which rights groups say at least 100 people were detained for expressing support. Since July 2015, authorities have questioned or detained hundreds of activists and independent legal professionals.

Amnesty International called for Su's and Chen's immediate and unconditional release.

"It is reprehensible they have been convicted solely for peacefully expressing their views," Patrick Poon, China researcher for Amnesty International, said in a statement.

Calls to the court in Foshan city in Guangdong province in China's south rang unanswered.