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Chinese dissident faces sentencing

Dec. 23, 2009 at 7:46 AM   |   Comments

BEIJING, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Noted Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo pleaded innocent Wednesday to subversion charges at a Beijing court hearing.

The hearing lasted only two hours with his lawyer saying nothing could be said until the verdict and sentencing Friday, The Times of London reported.

Liu's wife and foreign diplomats were not allowed at the hearing, the report said.

"I have no hope whatsoever. I can't even attend the trial," Liu's wife told the newspaper about her 53-year-old husband who, in the past two decades, has been active in demanding democracy and greater freedom of speech in the Communist country.

The Human Rights Watch in New York said Liu, a prolific writer and pro-democracy essayist, has been detained, arrested, and sentenced repeatedly for his peaceful political activities since the late 1980s.

HRW's Sophie Richardson said the only purpose of the trial was "to dress up naked political repression in the trappings of legal proceedings."

Liu's "crimes are non-existent, yet his fate has been predetermined. This is a travesty of justice." Richardson said.

Liu, who faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, had been charged with "inciting subversion of state power," the Times said.

Liu was detained on Dec. 8, 2008, and held under "residential surveillance" while police investigated the case, CNN reported quoting PEN American Center, a U.S. human rights organization. The group said he was charged with inciting subversion of state power in June with the prosecution office taking the case this month.

The U.S. government has pressed for Liu's release, CNN said.

Topics: Liu Xiaobo
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