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Human rights in China

The Chinese lawyer who vanished two years ago and the only man who’s seen him since

Lawyer who claims he visited Wang Quanzhang says he’s doing well in a Tianjin facility, but his wife is angry about his treatment – and worried

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2017, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 8:52pm

Human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang – who had not been seen or heard from since he was detained in a crackdown two years ago – is in good health in a Tianjin facility, according to a lawyer who claims to have visited him.

While Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, was relieved to know where he was, she said she was angry that he had been detained without trial since July 10, 2015.

Tianjin prosecutors told Li early this year that Wang had been indicted on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”, but there had been no information about any trial since then.

Isolated, tortured and mentally scarred ... the plight of China’s persecuted human rights lawyers

Wang’s relatives as well as lawyers and international human rights groups have repeatedly appealed to the Chinese authorities for his release and for information on his well-being.

He had also been denied access to lawyers. However, Zhejiang-based lawyer Chen Youxi on Wednesday announced on social media that he had met Wang in a Tianjin detention facility and that he was in good health.

“I met him in person and he is doing well physically and mentally,” Chen later told the South China Morning Post.

But Li remains worried about her husband, saying that lawyers appointed by the family had not been allowed to see Wang.

“This is some sort of confirmation [that he is still alive], but I am very worried about his health and whether he’s been tortured,” Li said.

In a statement issued late on Tuesday, Li said she had been approached by two lawyers in the past 10 days who claimed to have met Wang.

“My lawyers have tried their best to gain access to Wang in over 40 attempts over the past two years but they’ve been barred by the authorities,” Li said. “I’m very angry and do not wish to be approached by any more government-appointed lawyers.”

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Chen said on social media that he was informed by the Tianjin judicial authorities on July 12 that Wang had requested Chen as his lawyer. He said he arrived the next day and met Wang, but the detained rights lawyer changed his mind and decided to defend himself instead.

The post included an appointment letter purportedly signed by Wang and a photo of Chen posing outside the Tianjin No 2 Detention Centre.

Wang has represented a number of defendants in rights cases including Jiangsu-based Falun Gong practitioner Zhu Yanian in 2013.

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He has said he was assaulted by police in Heilongjiang province in 2014 during a rally for other lawyers who had been beaten and persecuted at a detention centre in the city of Jiamusi.

Some 300 lawyers, legal assistants and dissidents were detained in a crackdown on legal activists that began on July 9, 2015. Most of them were released but nine were convicted and at least five, including Wang, are still in custody without trial, according to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.