[JURIST] According to a colleague familiar with the case, prominent Chinese civil rights lawyer Xia Lin was put on trial for fraud on Friday during a “far-reaching crackdown on political dissent.” Xia had been detained in 2014 by Beijing police and later charged with Fraud. He is believed to have been defending human rights activist Guo Yushuan before this detainment. While not much is known at the moment, as journalists were barred entry [Reuters report] to the court, it is believed this case is the most recent in a string of attempts by President Xi Jinping’s administration to crackdown on political opposition and activists. A research for Amnesty International in Hong Kong, William Nee, believes this case could set a precedent for how future cases on rights activists and lawyers will be handled. This news comes only a day after Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement [HRW report] asking Chinese authorities to drop cases against rights lawyers.
Xi’s administration has been noted for increasing censorship of political opposition and rights groups. In April a civil rights lawyer was arrested and released [JURIST report] for posting an image online mocking Xi in relation to the Panama Papers release. Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiangon announced in Aprilnthat his license to practice law was revoked [JURIST report] by the judicial bureau. Chinese lawyer and professor Chen Taihe fled China [JURIST report] in March and arrived in San Leandro, California, after he was detained last July as part of a crackdown on rights lawyers. The crackdown culminated in at least 242 people detained or questioned throughout the country. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed concern [JURIST report] in February over China’s recent crackdown on lawyers and activists. In January Chinese authorities arrested [JURIST report] high profile human rights lawyer Wang Yu and her husband on charges of political subversion.