Diplomats shunned trial of prominent China activist

SHENZHEN/HONG KONG: Diplomats from several countries, including the United States, said on Thursday they were barred from attending the subversion trial of a rights activist and lawyer Guo Feixiong in the city of southern China Canton.
Guo, 58, has drawn international attention for his campaigns on issues including corruption and censorship and his allegations of mistreatment by Chinese authorities during more than a decade behind bars on previous charges.
His last detention in 2022 came a year after he was prevented from leaving the country to visit his dying wife in the United States, sparking further outcry.
“Today, US diplomats were prevented from attending the court proceedings of Guo Feixiong, a lawyer who is on trial in Guangzhou for his peaceful advocacy,” the US Embassy in China said via its account on Thursday. Twitter.
“We continue to call for Mr. Guo’s early release so that he can be reunited with his family.”
Diplomats from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain were also turned away and told by a court clerk that foreign visitors would need prior approval from higher authorities, four of the diplomats told Reuters, requesting anonymity.
The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court and China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Guo, whose real name is Yang Maodongis accused of “inciting the subversion of state power”.
Details of the charges against him are slim and Guo’s attorney declined to comment.
China has cracked down on dissent since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, and rights groups say hundreds of lawyers and activists have been detained in recent years. China says it respects the rule of law and individual rights and rejects criticism of its human rights record.
Two prominent human rights lawyers, Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong, were sentenced in April to more than a decade in prison.
In early 2021, Guo was arrested by officials at Shanghai airport while trying to visit his sick wife in the United States.
His public calls to leave were rebuffed, and his wife died about a year later of cancer. Two days later, Guo was arrested by Guangzhou police and has been held in custody ever since, according to rights groups.
The US State Department said in an earlier statement that Guo had been subjected to “years of abuse, imprisonment, harassment and routine surveillance, and was denied overseas travel to his peaceful advocacy on behalf of the Chinese people”.


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