Gao ZhishengAfter the recent up and down, plus the final verdict of Chen Guangcheng, another lawyer in China fell victim to the justice system. Gao Zhisheng, director of the Beijing-based Shengzhi Law Office, received a three-year suspended prison sentence yesterday for “inciting subversion.” Gao defended for several activists in China and the authorities actively threatened him before he was arrested.

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice handed down a one-year suspension of the operation of his office in November 2005. A month later, a police official warned him by phone that the police was collecting information about him. They knew everything about him, his wife and children, and even the bus that took the children to school. In January 2006, he was detained after he started to film the police in response to their filming. While in detention, the police officers told him, “You know if we wanted to kill you, it would be as easy as killing an ant!” Although he was detained only for a short time, Gao almost got into a car accident a few days later when a car with covered license plate stopped suddenly in front of his vehicle. The final draw came in August 2006 when he was detained and held incommunicado at an unknown location during a visit with his sister in Shandong Province. He was formally charged for “inciting subversion” a few months later.

His case caught quite a lot of attention overseas among the media and human rights organizations. China Daily reported (taken from Xinhua News Agency) that Gao’s interviews by overseas media, such as Radio Free Asia, damaged the reputation of the Chinese government and that’s a “crime of subversion.” The prison sentence from yesterday’s verdict is suspended for five years which means Gao would not go to jail unless he is found guilty of another crime within those five years. He is also deprived of his political rights for one year.

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