German ambassador expresses concern over Chinese activist

AP News
Posted: Aug 25, 2017 4:19 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have made it impossible for veteran human rights activist Jiang Tianyong to receive a fair hearing in his subversion trial, Germany's ambassador to China said Friday.

Jiang has not been permitted access to lawyers of his own choosing and was "obviously prejudged through a 'confession' aired by Chinese TV before his trial had even begun," Michael Clauss said in a statement issued by the embassy.

"Under these circumstances, a fair trial is impossible," Clauss said. China should ensure proceedings are conducted with due process and in adherence with United Nations conventions, and "enforce the stated objective of the Chinese leadership of strengthening the rule of law," his statement said.

Clauss said Germany has raised Jiang's case in high-level meetings with Chinese officials ever since Jiang's arrest in November 2016, and would continue to "take an active interest in his fate."

Jiang was a lawyer who took on politically sensitive cases before being disbarred in 2009. He then became an activist and helped publicize the plight of lawyers arrested in a sweeping crackdown on legal activists that began in July 2015. He went on trial Tuesday on charges of incitement to subversion.

In March, Jiang purportedly gave an interview to a state newspaper and was shown on state TV saying that he had made up a story about a lawyer, Xie Yang, being tortured. Jiang's wife and rights groups said the supposed confessions were a sham, and his legal team questioned how reporters were able to meet with Jiang when his relatives and lawyers were not.

Clauss has established himself as one of the more outspoken foreign ambassadors in China, issuing a series of statements on issues ranging from fair trade to religious protections.