Formerly missing lawyer stands trial

Wang Quanzhang
(Photo: Human Rights Tulip/Safeguard Defenders)


(Tianjin—Jan. 3, 2019) A prominent human rights lawyer swept up in a crackdown on his profession nearly three-and-a-half years ago was tried in a closed-off court proceeding just before Christmas.

Wang Quanzhang, an attorney who used his career to fight for the rights of others, went missing in 2015 after authorities took him and hundreds of others into custody nationwide for their stances against injustice. Some of the lawyers and activists caught up in this event, termed the “709 Crackdown” because it began on July 9, 2015, were abused in prison and forced to take unknown medication that adversely affected their health. Many of them also disappeared inside China’s prison system but were later located, whereas Wang’s whereabouts remained largely unknown until the trial.

During this period of time, Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, has tirelessly upheld her husband’s innocence and advocated for his release, even attempting to march from Beijing to Tianjin, where she believed he was being held. Fearing that she may attempt to attend the trial, officials sealed off her home.

The hearing was conducted behind closed doors since authorities alleged that the case dealt with state secrets. As a result, few details are known about its proceedings, but the South China Morning Post reported that Wang dismissed his state-selected attorney at the trial.

The court has yet to release a verdict.

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