China court sentences dissident lawyer to five years in prison

China court sentences dissident lawyer to five years in prison

[JURIST] The Tianhe District Court in China [JURIST news archive] convicted lawyer and dissident writer Yang Maodong [Amnesty report] of conducting "illegal business activity" and sentenced him to serve five years in prison and pay more than $5,000 in fines, according to his lawyer. Yang's trial began [HRIC report] in July on charges stemming from his publication of a book concerning a political scandal in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. Yang's lawyer said that he confessed to the charges after being tortured. Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] Thursday denounced [press release] Yang's Wednesday sentence as "harsh and unjustified" and reiterated its call [PDF text] for China to release Yang and other detained dissidents before the Beijing Olympic Games. Human Rights in China [advocacy website] similarly criticized [press release] the district court's ruling. AP has more.

Yang was arrested in September 2006, along with two other Internet authors, Chen Shuqing and Zhang Jianhong [Independent Chinese PEN Center report]. A court sentenced [JURIST report] Zhang to six years in prison in March for defaming the government by editing a website in China that called for political reform.