Hong Kong activist Yang Kuang spoke out for human rights when he was put on trial yesterday in Shenzhen over accusations he illegally entered the mainland.
The 46-year-old, who has been in custody since December 30, denied any wrongdoing and the hearing ended without an immediate verdict.
He told the court: "Even if I am sentenced this time, I won't stop coming to the mainland to visit my parents and wife … I also won't stop contributing to the mainland's human rights campaign - only even more so."
Though yesterday's trial was supposedly open to the public, the public gallery was occupied by plainclothes public security officers, and every Hong Kong reporter who arrived at the court was photographed.
And although the judge agreed to let Yang talk to his wife and his sick parents during a 10-minute adjournment, he was quickly forced away from them.
Guangzhou-born Yang made headlines in 2012 for captaining the fishing boat that evaded the Japanese coastguard to land on the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, the first landing by Hong Kong activists in 16 years. His home return permit was revoked in March last year after he attempted to visit Liu Xia , wife of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo . She has been kept against her will at her home since 2010. On his way to see her, Yang was detained for 40 hours by Beijing authorities for "provoking quarrels and making trouble".
At the People's Court in Nanshan District yesterday, he denied a charge of crossing the border without a legal permit. The charge carries a maximum one-year jail sentence.
Prosecutors told how after his home return permit was revoked he went on to return to the mainland four times, by boat and by land. The court heard he was caught by Shenzhen authorities on December 30 as he returned to Hong Kong via the Lo Wu checkpoint after visiting his wife at her home in Henan province and seeing other activists.
Prosecutors said he was using a permit for travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macau that did not belong to him. Yang denied any wrongdoing and insisted authorities had cancelled his home return permit without giving any reason or official notice.
Yang's wife, Liu Shasha, who was said to have suffered a miscarriage before her husband's last visit home, said: "I'm not optimistic. It's very likely Yang will be sentenced.
"Crossing the border and visiting family is a basic human right for every Hong Kong citizen. The mainland government deprived my husband of his human right because of his efforts to raise public awareness of the fight for the rights of victims in China."