A man walks past the courthouse where prominent rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang is being tried in Tianjin, China December 26, 2018.
A man walks past the courthouse where prominent rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang is being tried in Tianjin, China December 26, 2018.

A Chinese court has sentenced prominent rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to 4-and-a-half years in prison on a single charge of subverting state power.

The Second Intermediate People’s Court in the northeastern city of Tianjin announced in a brief online statement Monday that Wang had also been deprived of his political rights for five years.

Wang defended political activists, victims of land seizures and members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement. He was one of more than 200 people arrested in the so-called “709 crackdown” of rights lawyers and activists in 2015. He spent the following three years in detention, denied access to his wife Li Wenzu and the lawyers she had obtained for him, until his one-day trial on December 26, which was closed to outside observers.

Li Wenzu has her head shaved to protest the detent
Li Wenzu has her head shaved to protest the detention of her husband and Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, detained during the 709 crackdown, in Beijing on Dec. 17, 2018.

Li Wenzu has actively protested her husband’s detention in defiance of Chinese authorities. She once marched 100 kilometers from Beijing to the detention center in Tianjin where Wang has been held and shaved her head along with three other women as part of a public demonstration. She was prevented from attending his trial by Chinese security officers who would not allow her to leave her home.

Many of the lawyers swept up on the “709 crackdown” have faced similar charges of state subversion, and have also been disbarred from the legal profession.

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