Chinese activist Xu Zhiyong was convicted of assembling a crowd to disrupt public order and sentenced to four years in prison.
According to media reports, the charges are related to small-scale, peaceful street protests by members of his movement called the New Citizens Movement.
Xu is a legal scholar and has been a high-profile activist advocating for rights in China for a decade.
The Chinese Court found Xu guilty of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” following his closed-door trial on Wednesday.
The hearing and the sentencing took place under heavy security where journalists and diplomats were prohibited to attend.
US disappointed with the conviction of Xu Zhiyong
In a press statement in Washington DC, US Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States is deeply disappointed by reports that a Chinese court has convicted rights advocate Xu Zhiyong on charges of “gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place” and sentenced him to four years in prison.
She noted Xu has been detained by Chinese authorities since July. The activist is a leading public advocate for fiscal transparency and fighting official corruption.
“We are concerned that Mr. Xu’s prosecution is retribution for his public campaign to expose corruption and for the peaceful expression of his views.” – Ms. Psaki
The US called on Chinese authorities to release Xu and other political prisoners immediately, cease restrictions on their freedom of movement, and guarantee them the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments.
A Glimpse into the life of Xu Zhiyong
Xu Zhiyong was born in Minquan County, Henan in 1973. He founded the New Citizens’ Movement in China which was fined 1.46 million RMB on July 14, 2009 for ‘dodging taxes’ and was shut down by the authorities.
In 2009, he was arrested at his home, and detained by Chinese authorities on charges of tax evasion
The activist was under house arrest since Apr 12, 2013, and he was detained on Jul 16, 2013. He was formally arrested on Aug