Criminal Speech? The Weibo Posts That Could Send Chinese Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang to PrisonPosted: January 28, 2015
Josh Chin, with Yang Jie: Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has never been one to hold his tongue. A document from a law firm that began circulating online Tuesday night shows how police are trying to use that outspokenness to send him to prison.
“Pu Zhiqiang has already he was responsible for posting most of these messages. The question is whether writing and posting them falls within the realm of free expression or constitutes a crime.”
Mr. Pu, a hard-charging attorney and Tiananmen Square veteran known for defending high-profile dissidents such as artist Ai Weiwei, was detained in May. The following month, he was formally arrested on suspicion of illegally obtaining personal information and picking quarrels, and in November prosecutors added charges of inciting ethnic hatred and inciting separatism. The last three charges are related to messages posted online by Mr. Pu and detailed in the document.
Mr. Pu’s lawyer, Shang Baojun, confirmed the authenticity of the document to China Real Time on Wednesday, saying it was a copy of posts compiled by his law firm from a list of evidence provided by prosecutors.
Police resubmitted Mr. Pu’s case to prosecutors earlier this month after their initial investigation was rejected for insufficient evidence, Mr. Shang said. Police and prosecutors have repeatedly ignored or declined to respond to requests for comment on Mr. Pu’s case.
The document lists 28 messages posted on the Weibo microblogging site between 2011 and 2014 from 12 different accounts belonging to Mr. Pu. (Dissidents in China often post from multiple accounts in order to evade censors.) The posts cover a range of topics, from China’s dispute with Japan over contested islands in the East China Sea to terrorist attacks attributed to Xinjiang separatists to Communist Party icon of do-goodery Lei Feng. Many of the posts, including those that deal with the issue of terrorism, appear to come in response to Weibo posts from other users or news organizations.
“Pu Zhiqiang has already he was responsible for posting most of these messages. The question is whether writing and posting them falls within the realm of free expression or constitutes a crime,” Mr. Shang said. “On this, we understand things differently (than the authorities).”
Mr. Shang said he hadn’t seen any evidence beyond the posts relating to the three charges. If indicted and found guilty of all four charges, Mr. Pu could face up to 20 years in prison, he said.
Below are rough China Real Time translations of seven of the posts as they appeared in the document.
2) June 8, 2013: One of the biggest lies of the last 60 years is Lei Feng. He hoodwinked me for two decades, actively pandering to his promoters, his diaries a collective creation. A monthly allowance of seven or eight yuan and he’s making 100-yuan donations – either that’s fiction or there’s corruption involved. Back then 30 million died from starvation, people my age might have taken a single photograph, and yet when he’s up late at night studying Mao with a flashlight, there are people taking pictures! He left thousands of photos behind! Beijing police, if you want to arrest hidden forces, go arrest the hidden forces behind Lei Feng.
6) July 24, 2012: From top to bottom, this party can’t live a day without lying. [NOTE: At the time, Beijing’s city government was being accused of underplaying the death toll from devastating floods.]
15) May 1, 2014: The frequency of Xinjiang terror attacks – of course I denounce violence, but with that said, investigations are necessary. I don’t believe all these….(read more)
– Josh Chin, with contributions from Yang Jie
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