The embassies of Germany and the United States are deeply disappointed that Chinese human rights defender and blogger Wu Gan and Chinese attorney Xie Yang have been convicted on vague charges of “subverting state power”, and that Wu has been sentenced to eight years in prison. We call on the Chinese authorities to release Wu immediately. As Xie has been exempted from punishment, we urge China to allow Xie to resume his professional activities without preconditions and be free of any restrictions.
For many years, Xie Yang has helped fellow Chinese citizens defend their rights under Chinese law. He was among those lawyers and other rights defenders, including Wu Gan, targeted by Chinese authorities in the so-called “709” crackdown that began in July 2015. Wu was held in pretrial detention for more than two years and denied access to independent legal counsel until December 9, 2016. Xie was held incommunicado for six months before being charged, then was jailed for 18 months longer before appearing at an unannounced trial in May. During the trial, Xie read a scripted confession that directly contradicted his previous signed statement describing how he was treated while in detention. The court appointed an attorney to represent Xie and barred him from choosing his own counsel, after authorities detained his original attorney in May 2017.
In light of the allegations of serious mistreatment of Wu Gan and Xie Yang while in detention, and Xie’s public confession on state media, we call on the Chinese authorities to adhere to procedures established by law and respect China’s international human rights obligations and commitments. We urge Chinese authorities to view lawyers and rights defenders as partners in strengthening Chinese society through development of the rule of law.
We also continue to call for the immediate release of Wang Quanzhang, who has been held in detention and denied access to independent legal counsel for over two years.