Days of interrogation in a cold, secluded room taught Liu Anjun that China's security forces see dissidents and protesters like him as players in a plot to topple the Communist Party, a fear that is magnifying Beijing's hard crackdown on dissent.
0”(The) Canadian government's confidence in the Chinese legal system is curious given that since mid-February 2011, rule of law has been under intensified attack and the Chinese government has been routinely deploying thuggish, unlawful tactics to harass, silence and intimidate lawyers, artists and civil society activists.”
url>0 640,360The Chinese embassy in Washington has said the country's best known activist lawyer, missing for a year after being taken from his home, is working in the western city of Urumqi, a U.S.-based rights group said late on Saturday.
There, for six days, police interrogators showed Liu pictures of dissidents, human rights lawyers, and activists, seeking information about their mutual contacts, beliefs and plans, Liu told Reuters at his home in a Beijing alley where he was recovering after his release from 45 days in detention. Police bundled him into a van and locked him in a hotel room in south Beijing, where he was watched by rotating teams of guards, he said. Liu, a gravel-voiced, charismatic agitator for petitioners' rights, was taken from his family on February 18.
Chinese authorities have not provided consistent information on his fate. Gao, a Christian lawyer who helped defend members of China's banned Falun Gong spiritual group, was abducted from his relative's home in Shanxi province on Feb 4, 2009.
in emailed comments: “Without a presumption of innocence – indeed with the presumption of guilt – how does one get a 'fair trial'?” But he said Chinese assurances and the offer to allow Canadian diplomats access to Lai should offer some protection. “If he were tortured or executed, the damage to Sino-Canadian relations would be massive, and would no doubt deter other countries from extraditing suspects who allegedly committed capital crimes back to China,” he said.
The law firm that Weiss helped found, Milberg LLP, was once a powerhouse in suing large corporations on behalf of investors. He is perhaps best known for obtaining a $1.3 billion settlement for investors harmed by the Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc junk bond scandal in the 1980s.
url>0 640,360I told them I didn't know anything about any of them.” Officials have said Ai faces investigation for “suspected economic crimes.” But his sister, Gao Ge, dismissed that as a ruse and said Ai was detained for his political advocacy. “They also asked a little about Ai Weiwei and showed me a picture of him from a party,” he said.
But analysts say incumbent Chinese President Hu Jintao is unlikely to secure Jia's ouster from the party leadership. Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin had intervened to protect Jia, making him Beijing's Party boss, before he advanced to number four in the leadership – despite speculation he would not survive the 17th Party Congress in 2007.
He said that had he not been in Canada he would have been executed. Let's see what his defense lawyer has to say: 'My client is required to return because Chinese officials are hoping to distract the public's attention from their own corruption'.” Lai admitted in a 2009 interview with Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper that he had avoided taxes by exploiting loopholes in the law, but he denies bribery charges. “The repatriation of Lai Changxing is undoubtedly a piece of good news and deserves to be celebrated,” said Zhang Yaoxing.
Gao had previously published instances when he was tortured while in detention. In 2005, he wrote an open letter to China's president and premier, calling for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong, which China regards as a dangerous cult. Self-educated, he had grown disenchanted with the Chinese system while representing other activist lawyers, Falun Gong practitioners and underground Christians.
“On Feb 12, the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC informed John Kamm, executive director of The Dui Hua Foundation, that Mr. Gao Zhisheng is working in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and that he has been in contact with his wife and relatives in China,” said the foundation, which campaigns for the rights of prisoners.
Weiss pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge in March 2008 for his role in a scheme in which Milberg lawyers paid kickbacks to plaintiffs who agreed to participate in lawsuits. From the 1970s to 2005, prosecutors said, Milberg reaped $239 million in legal fees by making improper payments to plaintiffs in more than 165 lawsuits.
The most internationally prominent target of that crackdown has been the artist Ai Weiwei, but the net reaches far wider and reflects Party anxiety that it confronts not just general discontent, but a subversive movement waiting to pounce.
Many legal experts and human rights activists said it was unlikely Lai could receive a fair trial in China. “Unless the investigators, prosecutors and judges he will confront dramatically alter their customary practices, Lai will not receive a fair trial by international human rights standards or Canadian criminal justice standards,” Jerome Cohen, an expert in Chinese law at New York University, told Reuters. Canada has no death penalty and will not usually extradite anyone to a state where capital punishment is practiced without assurances the suspect will not be executed. In testimony to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, human rights and legal experts said Washington had played down human rights as it sought Beijing's help with the global financial crisis and diplomatic crises with North Korea and Iran. China's crackdown on critics and ethnic minorities, amid reversals in the rule of law since 2008, warrants redoubled U.S. efforts to press Beijing on human rights, experts told a congressional panel on Tuesday.
“What's been going on in north Africa and the Middle East is a prime example in some people's eyes of the color revolution,” said Rosenzweig, the Hong Kong-based rights researcher. The call for a “Jasmine Revolution” in particular brings together two of the Communist Party's great fears: Western-backed opposition and the power of the Internet to influence and possibly mobilize China's 453 million users. “What we're seeing is in my recollection … the largest number of people who have been rounded up at once for online expression,” he said.
“They were trying to build up links among everybody, trying to get me to tell them who was supporting what,” said Liu, who walks on crutches after a leg injury sustained in a protest over the demolition of a former home. The police have been hunting for evidence of a web of conspiracy bringing together domestic and foreign foes that the Chinese government believes are behind recent calls for Middle East-inspired “Jasmine Revolution” protests against the Party. “They took out picture after picture, mainly of democracy activists and rights defenders, and asked about each of them,” Liu said, seated in his cigarette smoke-filled living room.
Many Chinese applauded the court's decision to extradite Lai. China put more than 300 suspects on trial and sentenced 14 to death, including provincial officials and a former vice minister of public security, in a case Beijing has used for a propaganda campaign against corruption. On Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging service, Lai's extradition was the most-talked about topic, with some Chinese expressing thinly veiled criticisms about official corruption, an issue that has sparked rising discontent.
The experts told the panel that Washington should turn what are now annual human rights talks with Beijing at least twice a year, raise the rank of officials participating and raise specific prisoners' cases rather than engage in the abstract discussions the Chinese have preferred to date.
Chen, the security official, was a senior producer of a documentary shown to officials several years ago to stress the threat of Western-backed “color revolution” subversion. INTERNET POWER Official Chinese fears of Western-backed subversion have been reinforced by the view that “color revolutions” that swept Central Asia several years ago were Western-promoted rehearsals for a similar subversive assault on China. “It's not just a general sense that the Western governments supported the Nobel decision; it's a real belief that it was dreamed up in Washington as a way to attack China,” said one of those sources, a researcher.
Gao's family had feared he was dead, after a cryptic comment from police that he had “lost his way and gone missing” in September. “This really is a case that calls for 'habeas corpus',” said Jerome Cohen, an expert on Chinese legal issues who is active in pressing Gao's case. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in January told reporters Gao was “where he is supposed to be,” but the following week said he did not know Gao's whereabouts.
CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN The case exploded in the special economic zone of Xiamen in Fujian province in the mid-1990s when Jia Qinglin, now the ruling Communist Party's fourth most senior leader, was the province's Party boss. She denied any wrongdoing. Beijing has accused Lai's business empire, the Yuanhua Group, of bribing officials to allow a massive smuggling ring in a scandal that implicated more than 200 senior figures, including Jia's wife, Lin Youfang.
On the Internet, some Chinese microbloggers wondered whether Lai's extradition could spell political trouble for other Chinese officials, especially ahead of a tricky handover of power from President Hu Jintao to his likely successor Vice President Xi Jinping starting from late next year. Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who made waves in 2006 when he said that he would not sell out human rights in China “for the almighty dollar”, is due to visit China soon.
District Court in Los Angeles on whether to revoke his release following an arrest in December for driving under the influence in Boynton Beach, Florida. Weiss, 77, reached a deal with federal prosecutors on the eve of a Friday hearing in U.S.
He also was ordered to three years of supervised release. His plea bargain stipulated that he wouldn't break any laws while on probation, and that a violation could mean a return to prison. Weiss was sentenced to 30 months in prison in June 2008 and ordered to forfeit $9.75 million and pay a $250,000 fine.
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