Shanghai court accepts detained rights lawyer’s defamation case against state-backed media
Suit brought by Jiang Tianyong’s father finally accepted after Beijing, Guangzhou courts throw it out
A Shanghai court has agreed to hear a defamation suit brought by the father of a human rights activist against a state-backed media outlet.
Jiang Lianghou, father of activist Jiang Tianyong, received a notice from the Jingan District People’s Court on Wednesday saying it had accepted his case against Shanghai Dongfang Newspaper, which owns news portal Thepaper.cn.
Jiang Lianghou claims the online news service published a report in December that damaged his son’s reputation. The report was republished in various other government-backed outlets, including Legal Daily and Procuratorate Daily.
“Jiang Lianghou is of view that the report in Thepaper.cn about Jiang Tianyong is not based on facts, judged him guilty before the court process and damaged his reputation,” according to a statement from Chen Jinxue, the son’s defence lawyer.
Jiang Lianghou filed similar suits in Beijing and Guangzhou against media outlets but they were rejected, according to Chen’s statement.
The Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing and Guangzhou’s Yuexiu District People’s Court refused to accept or process the applications filed, the statement said. The courts also refused to explain why the applications were rejected.
Jiang Tianyong, a lawyer until he was disbarred in 2009, went missing on November 21 in Changsha, Hunan province. He was later confirmed to be under heavy guard at a residential location in Zhengzhou, Henan province, on suspicion of subversion.
His disappearance drew international concern with numerous parties expressing fears for his welfare.
He had most recently helped to publicise the plight of nearly two dozen lawyers arrested in a broad crackdown that began in July, 2015 and resulted in hundreds of rights campaigners being rounded up.
Jiang Tianyong was also detained for 15 days in 2014 with Tang Jitian and two other lawyers investigating the illegal detention of several Falun Gong members in Heilongjiang province.
Jiang Lianghou claims a report by Thepaper.cn on December 16 alleged his son committed identity fraud, and illegally processed documents containing state secrets before giving them to overseas agencies.
The report said Jiang Tianyong had seven mobile phones, 11 phone cards and seven bank cards when he was detained by Changsha police in November.
The report claimed Jiang “incited petitioners” and people with grievances to “resist government agencies and interrupt judicial procedures”, “severely violating social order” and creating a “negative social impact”.