Noted human rights lawyer Xia Lin was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Chinese court on Thursday. Xia, who famously represented many Chinese dissidents including artist Ai Weiwei, was arrested and accused of fraudulently obtaining [JURIST report] more than a million dollars to take care of gambling debts. He was convicted [QZ report] of obtaining less then half of the amount. Many accused [ChinaChange report] the court of handing down an abnormally harsh sentence to prevent other lawyers from representing activists as a part of a free speech crackdown. Xia Lin [SCMP report] was a famous human rights lawyer who credited his participation in the Tiananmen square protest as a reason to become a lawyer.
In July China announced plans to prosecute [JURIST report] prominent human rights lawyer Zhou Shifeng on charges of subverting state power, furthering its recent crackdown on political dissidents. 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. In January Chinese authorities arrested [JURIST report] high profile human rights lawyer Wang Yu and her husband on charges of political subversion.