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Interventions Made on Behalf of Jailed Lawyer

July 30, 2003

For Immediate Release

July 30, 2003

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received a copy of an open letter sent to Chinese president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao by Jiang Meili, the wife of detained lawyer Zheng Enchong.

Zheng was originally detained on June 6 on accusations of stealing state secrets after assisting displaced families in more than 500 cases relating to Shanghai’s urban redevelopment projects. Most recently Zheng, whose license was revoked in 2001, was advising families involved in a lawsuit alleging official collusion with a wealthy property developer, Zhou Zhengyi.

Jiang Meili’s letter, attached in full to the Chinese press release, calls for the central authorities that are investigating the collusion allegations to also take over the investigation of Zheng Enchong’s case. The letter says that Zheng Enchong was arrested on trumped-up charges because his allegations offended a number of local officials, and urges the authorities to release Zheng immediately once he is exonerated. Jiang Meili quotes an unnamed official as saying, “Nearly every official in Shanghai hates Zheng Enchong.”

In addition, the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has issued a letter to the Chinese government condemning Zheng’s arbitrary arrest and detention and the unlawful revocation of his license in 2001. The letter, addressed to president Hu Jintao and copied to premier Wen Jiabao and other senior officials, urges the Chinese government to release Zheng from detention and reinstate his license to practice law. The ICJ also calls for Chinese law to be amended to preclude prosecutions for “illegally obtaining state secrets” against lawyers discharging their professional duties. The ICJ’s letter can be viewed on the ICJ Web site at: http://www.icj.org/IMG/pdf/Zheng.pdf

HRIC wholeheartedly supports Jiang Meili’s letter, and welcomes the intervention from the International Commission of Jurists. “Jiang Meili’s demands are entirely reasonable,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “It is highly doubtful that any investigation of Zheng Enchong will be carried out impartially at the local level. Zheng Enchong has become a hero to the people because of his fight against conflict of interests in the Shanghai redevelopment projects. The authorities should focus on investigating and prosecuting the actual guilty parties instead of persecuting Zheng for his pursuit of public justice.”

For more information, contact Stacy Mosher at (212) 239-4495.