China appeals court upholds 11-year sentence for pro-democracy activist News
China appeals court upholds 11-year sentence for pro-democracy activist

[JURIST] A Chinese appeals court on Thursday upheld the 11-year prison sentence [JURIST report] for democracy activist Liu Xiaobo [JURIST news archive], despite calls for his release from US and European Union (EU) officials. Liu was tried [JURIST report] in December on subversion charges in a trial that lasted only two hours and was closed to foreign diplomats. In his appeal, Liu's lawyers argued [press release] that he was innocent, claiming:

1) The existing evidence does not prove Liu Xiaobo's subjective intent to incite subversion of state power;
2) The charges of inciting subversion of state power against Liu Xiaobo in the indictment are based upon [writings] quoted out of context;
3) The charges in the indictment blur the line between a citizen's free speech and criminal offenses; and
4) There have been major flaws during the investigation, the procuratorate's examination before prosecution, and the trial of this case.

US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman [official profile] and EU representative Simon Sharp had both urged the Chinese government to release Liu. Huntsman said [press release] that China was acting "inconsistent[ly] with internationally recognized norms of human rights" by prosecuting someone for expressing his political opinions. Chinese officials rejected the criticism as unfair [Xinhua report].

Liu, who spent two years in prison following the Tiananmen Square [BBC backgrounder] uprising, has long challenged China's one-party rule, and co-authored Charter 08 [text], a petition calling for political reforms in the country. Liu was formally arrested in June and charged [JURIST reports] in December, but he has been in detention since December 2008, shortly before the petition's release. In June, rights groups marked the 20th anniversary of the 1989 uprising in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, calling for the government to investigate the incident [JURIST report] and implement changes called for by Charter 08.