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China human rights lawyer charged with inciting subversion

[JURIST] Chinese human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng [Wikipedia profile] has been charged with inciting subversion of state power [CECC report], according to a statement by his lawyer. Gao has been detained without access to his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, since August and was formally arrested on September 21 with no charges declared. Mo learned of the subversion accusation [Reuters report] only last week, telling Reuters that he was not notified by the public security bureau, as is usual practice, but that he only learned of the charges after going to prosecutors. Subversion charges usually carry a maximum five-year prison sentence, though the sentence is sometimes extended in the most serious cases. Sunday's New York Times has more.

Gao gained international notice by representing controversial clients, including members of the banned sect Falun Gong [group website; BBC backgrounder]. Gao's license to practice was revoked [CECC backgrounder; HRW letter] late last year. There have been several high-profile subversion trials in China this year, including the jailing of several journalists and a ten-year sentence for a teacher [JURIST reports] who posted pro-democracy essays on the Internet.

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