Pu Zhiqiang: China rights lawyer gets suspended jail sentence

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Source: BBC

Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has been released from detention after receiving a suspended jail sentence.

Mr Pu was found guilty by a Beijing court earlier on Tuesday for “inciting ethnic hatred” and “picking quarrels” in social media posts.

The court sentenced him to three years in prison but also said the sentence would be suspended.

He is the latest to be tried in a crackdown on dissidents in China.

Mr Pu was released from Beijing’s Number One Detention Centre on Tuesday afternoon, where he had been held for 19 months.

He is now under “residential surveillance”, and has 10 days to decide whether to appeal against his conviction and sentence, his lawyer says.

Experts say the suspended sentence means Mr Pu can avoid serving time in jail – but could be monitored during the suspension period. The guilty verdict means he can no longer practise law.

Mr Pu could have faced a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

State news agency Xinhua said that during his sentencing Mr Pu had “acknowledged the reality of his crimes”, apologised, and accepted his sentence. However, his lawyers said he had not pleaded guilty.

Rights group Amnesty International said that the sentence was “a deliberate attempt by the Chinese authorities to shackle a champion of freedom of expression”.

However, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Mr Pu’s case had been handled “in accordance with the law” and that “foreign governments should respect China’s judicial sovereignty”.

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