BEIJING, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A Chinese political activist was sentenced to four years in prison for inciting a public disturbance, a Beijing court said Sunday.
The Beijing No. 1 People's Court issued a written statement announcing that Xu Zhiyong was found guilty in a closed trial last week of "gathering a crowd to disturb public order."
Xu, a legal scholar, is a longtime advocate for civil rights in China and the founder of the New Citizens Movement. He was arrested in connection with a series of small and peaceful street demonstrations demanding equal opportunities in education and calling on government officials to make their financial assets public, Britain's the Guardian said.
Human rights activists called the proceedings unfortunate but not unexpected.
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke issued a written statement urging the Beijing government to release Xu and respect the rights of his fellow activists.