A Chinese court has sentenced a veteran democracy activist to nine years' imprisonment for inciting subversion.
Chen Wei was convicted of incitement to subversion over four essays he wrote and published online, according to one of his lawyers. He was detained in February amid an extensive government crackdown in response to anonymous online calls urging
Chinese to imitate protests in North Africa and the Middle East.
Attorney Liang Xiaojun said: We pleaded not guilty. He only wrote a few essays. We presented a full defence of the case, but we were interrupted often, and none of what we said was accepted by the court.
Chen's wife Wang Xiaoyan denounced the punishment: He is innocent and the punishment was too harsh. The court did not allow him to defend himself and he was completely deprived of his right to free speech . What's wrong with a person
freely expressing his ideas?
The sentence handed down to Chen appears to be the heaviest penalty meted out in relation to this year's crackdown, said Wang Songlian, a researcher with the Hong Kong-based advocacy group, Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
This severe punishment against an activist, caught up in the Jasmine crackdown, shows how the Chinese government's nerves are still jittery. All its latest moves, its attempts to control its microblogs, its crackdown on activists, show it is
increasing tightening on freedom of expression and other civil liberties.