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Imprisoned Lawyer Dragged from Family Visit

November 10, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from sources in China that imprisoned Shanghai public interest lawyer Zheng Enchong has been subjected to unfair treatment because of his refusal to admit wrongdoing.

Zheng Enchong’s wife, Jiang Meili, accompanied other family members to visit Zheng in Shanghai’s Tilanqiao Prison on November 10. During the visit, Zheng told family members that he had been visited a number of times by the director of Shanghai’s Judicial Bureau and Prisons Bureau, Miao Xiaobao, who told him that if he admitted wrongdoing, his three-year sentence would be reduced by one year. But Zheng refused to comply, and as a result, he was being subjected to unfair treatment.

Zheng was sentenced to three years in prison on October 28, 2003 on charges of revealing state secrets. At the time of his arrest in the previous June, Zheng had been assisting families displaced in an urban redevelopment project carried out by a company controlled by a wealthy and well-connected businessman, Zhou Zhengyi.

According to HRIC’s sources, since his imprisonment, Zheng has not been allowed to meet with his lawyer, as a result of which he has not been able to file an appeal against his sentence. Jiang Meili has signed an appeal application on Zheng’s behalf, but the Shanghai Supreme People’s Court has not acknowledged it.

In addition, Zheng told his visitors that in spite of his relatively light sentence, he has been housed in the prison’s high security section, where he is obliged to share his 3.5 square meter cell with two other prisoners. Zheng’s repeated requests to telephone his family have also been denied.

Sources told HRIC that during the November 10 prison visit by family members, Zheng asked Jiang Meili to urge Shen Ting and other displaced residents to persevere in their legal action against Zhou Zhengyi and others involved in the redevelopment project. When Zheng began speaking on this subject, prison guards immediately ended the visit, and five or six guards grabbed Zheng and carried him out of the visiting room.

Angered at what they had learned of Zheng’s treatment, and at having their visit abruptly curtailed, Jiang Meili and other family members have written an open letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao calling for their intervention to grant Zheng an appeal through the national Supreme People’s Court. The full text of the open letter is appended to the Chinese press release.

“We deeply deplore this biased treatment of Zheng Enchong in prison,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “Zheng should be accorded all of the rights he is entitled to, including the right to meet with his lawyer and apply for an appeal against his trumped-up conviction.”