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China tries activist amid crackdown

Associated Press / August 13, 2011

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BEIJING - A Chinese activist known for pushing legal issues and backing a jailed Nobel peace laureate went on trial yesterday on a vaguely worded charge, reinforcing Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on dissent.

Wang Lihong, 56, pleaded not guilty to the charge of “creating a disturbance’’ stemming from her participation in a demonstration outside a court in Fuzhou city in southern China in April 2010. The gathering was in support of three bloggers accused of slander after they tried to help an illiterate woman pressure authorities to reinvestigate her daughter’s death.

One of Wang’s lawyers, Han Yicun, said the trial lasted 2 1/2 hours and that a verdict was expected later this month. If convicted, she faces up to five years in jail.

Han said the trial was not fair because the judge interrupted both him and Wang as they tried to present her defense and because they were assigned a courtroom too small to accommodate observers. A second lawyer was allowed to speak without interruption, he said.

Wang was detained by Beijing police in late March.

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