China sentences prominent rights lawyer to 2 years in prison

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In this May 2, 2012, file photo, human rights activist Jiang Tianyong speaks to journalists outside a hospital after his failed attempt to see blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng who is believed to be seeking treatment in Beijing, China. A court in central China has sentenced Jiang to two years in prison Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, on the vague charge of inciting subversion of state power, the latest verdict to be handed down in a sweeping crackdown on activism. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

BEIJING (AP) — A prominent human rights lawyer in China was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison on the vague charge of inciting subversion of state power, the latest verdict to be handed down in a sweeping crackdown on activism.

The Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Changsha handed down the verdict against activist Jiang Tianyong in a hearing, according to an announcement on the court’s official account on the Sina Weibo microblogging platform.

The court posted footage of Jiang in a black down jacket sitting in a courtroom listening, expressionless, as a judge read out the verdict.

Prosecutors said he had used social media platforms to denigrate the government and judicial authorities and incited others to subvert state power, including fabricating claims that another lawyer, Xie Yang, had been tortured in custody.

Rights groups said the trial was a sham and that Jiang was caught as part of a campaign aimed at snuffing out any opposition to the ruling Communist Party.

Courts in China are controlled by the Communist Party and convictions are virtually assured. Human rights groups and victims say the extraction of coerced confessions, sometimes through the use of physical and psychological torture, is common, despite being banned by Chinese law.