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Chinese Dissident Verdict Expected Sunday

The lawyer for Chinese dissident Xu Zhiyong, who was tried Wednesday, says the verdict will be announced Sunday morning.

Xu was charged with "gathering crowds to disrupt public order." He stayed silent and did not defend himself at his trial. If found guilty he could face five years in prison.

His lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, told VOA he has no doubt what the verdict will be.



"Since the decision will come so soon after the trial, and they have ignored the due process, it will definitely be a guilty verdict and the sentence will not be too light. It'll very likely be five years."



Xu, a 40-year-old legal scholar, founded the grassroots New Citizens Movement, which supports democracy and the rule of law and has, as a goal, a crackdown on corrupt officials.

A total of seven New Citizens Movement members are standing trial this week and next. Three others were tried in December, though verdicts have not been delivered.



The U.S. State Department has criticized the crackdown, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing. On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry said foreign countries should not interfere with its internal issues.

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.)

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