China court sentences Xu Zhiyong to four years in jail

BBC's Celia Hatton: "Some say that dozens have been arrested in connection with Mr Xu Zhiyong's movement"

Related Stories

A Chinese court has sentenced prominent human rights activist Xu Zhiyong to four years in prison.

Xu, who campaigned for children's rights and against corruption, was convicted of "gathering crowds to disrupt public order".

Several other activists from a transparency movement are facing similar charges.

Rights groups have criticised President Xi Jinping - who pledged to fight corruption - over their cases.

Xu was arrested in July 2013 and the trial began on Wednesday.

Reacting to the verdict, Xu's lawyer Zhang Qingfang said his client had told the court that "the last shred of dignity of China's rule of law" had been destroyed.

Tainted milk scandal

Xu, who was also previously under house arrest, is a leading member of a group calling for officials to reveal their wealth.

He has also campaigned in behalf of inmates on death row and families affected by tainted baby milk formula, among other causes.

Many across China believe Xu was targeted by the government because of his rising popularity and his growing presence on Chinese social media platforms, says the BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing.

In 2009 he was arrested on tax evasion charges that were eventually dropped after a public outcry.

Hu Jia (file handout, undated) Hu Jia has previously served a prison term for sedition

Seven members of his informal grassroots group, New Citizens' Movement, also are also facing separate trials on similar charges.

Another prominent rights activist, Hu Jia, tweeted on Sunday that he was being taken into police custody.

Hu, whose campaigns include HIV/Aids and environmental issues, served a three-year prison term for sedition. He was released in June 2011.

He tweeted that he believed he was being detained because of the online support he had extended to other dissidents who were recently entangled in China's legal system.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More China stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • HobbitHobbit review

    Nicholas Barber asks whether The Battle of the Five Armies is worthwhile or unnecessary

Programmes

  • Digital candlesClick Watch

    Inside the 'Harry Potter' church, using technology to explore "digital empathy".

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.