Pu Zhiqiang reunites with family, won’t appeal

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-23 0:53:01

Verdict more lenient than expected: lawyers

A Chinese civil rights lawyer given a suspended three-year prison term on Tuesday for inciting ethnic hatred and provoking trouble will not appeal, one of his attorneys said.

Pu Zhiqiang was sentenced by the Beijing No.2 Intermediate People's Court a week after he was tried.

He has been released from detention as of Tuesday night.

Mo Shaoping, one of Pu's attorneys, confirmed with the Global Times on Tuesday that Pu will not appeal the verdict.

Pu believes that under current circumstances, chances for a higher court to reverse the verdict are very slim, Mo said.

"Pu acknowledged that he wrote those posts. He also admitted that some of the posts were rude and wrong, but he does not think doing so constitutes a crime," Mo said, referring to seven of Pu's Weibo posts cited as evidence.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, which cited the court, Pu, 50, had admitted to the charges and showed regret. The court had, therefore, decided on a lenient sentence.

One of Pu's lawyers, Shang Baojun, previously confirmed with the Global Times that the prosecutors cited seven of Pu's Weibo posts as evidence. Among them, four were used as evidence to prove he was inciting ethnic hatred and three for provoking trouble.

According to a China Central Television (CCTV) news report, one of Pu's Weibo posts after the deadly terror attack at the Kunming Railway Station in March 2014 included criticism of government policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

"If the people are not afraid of death, it's useless to threaten them with death. The attackers are eager to become martyrs of Allah, … the Xinjiang policies need to be adjusted," the Weibo post reads.

Eight people believed to be religious extremists from Xinjiang staged a knife attack at the railway station in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province in 2014, killing more than 30 people.

The court said Tuesday that Pu continued to post inflammatory content despite warnings from website administrators, and that his behavior proves he intended to fan ethnic hatred, according to Xinhua.

The court also said Pu's insulting posts, which had been reposted some 900 times and received over 500 comments, caused disorder in cyberspace and negative social impact, leading the court to believe his behavior had constituted the crime of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble."

As of Tuesday afternoon Pu had reunited with his wife in an undisclosed location away from his home, according to Shang.

Shang declined a request from the Global Times to interview Pu, citing his probation.


Pu had been detained since May 2014. He was officially arrested in June 2014 on charges of provoking trouble and "illegally obtaining citizens' personal information." Later, charges were added against him for instigating a split in the country, and for inciting ethnic hatred. But when he was tried on December 14, the charges were reduced to inciting ethnic hatred and provoking troubles.

Tuesday's CCTV report also showed Pu's written confession, in which he said, "I acknowledge the criminal facts presented by public prosecutors," and that "my behavior fanned ethnic hatred and provoked trouble."

"I am willing to accept the lawful punishment," Pu wrote.

The CCTV report said Pu admitted in court that, from his own experience, he "felt the improvement of the law as well as the progress in society."

Pu's lawyers previously believed that he could be sentenced to up to eight years in jail.

Stripped of practice

The verdict means Pu will no longer be able to practice law, Shang told the Global Times.

According to China's Law on Lawyers, people with a criminal record, unless the crime is involuntary, are banned from practicing law.

Pu must frequently report to authorities, and his behavior will be closely watched during the reprieve, Duan Wanjin, a Xi'an-based criminal lawyer, told the Global Times.

In 2012, Pu represented Ren Jianyu in a high-profile case wherein Ren, a village official, was sent to a re-education through labor camp for criticizing then-Chongqing Party boss Bo Xilai.

In 2013 Pu represented Tang Hui, a mother who also received re-education through labor for repeatedly petitioning for her teenage daughter who was raped and kept as a prostitute.

Both cases had raised considerable public attention on China's re-education through labor system. The practice was officially abolished in China in December 2013.

Posted in: Politics, Law

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