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Rights Defender Guo Feixiong Maintains Innocence, Is Formally Indicted

May 15, 2007

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from sources in China that despite the serious pressure that rights defender Guo Feixiong's family has received, Guo has refused to admit guilt with respect to charges of "illegal business activity." Today, the last day the indictment could be issued within the timeframes set by law, Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong) was formally indicted.

Sources in China told HRIC that Guo's defense lawyer, Hu Xiao, telephoned the procuratorate of Guangzhou's Tianhe District on May 14 and was told that Guo would be formally indicted on May 15. The procuratorate had previously sent the case back to the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB) twice for supplemental investigation and by law May 15 was the deadline for initiating a prosecution against Guo.

Sources say Guo's wife, Zhang Qing, has also been informed of the indictment. Zhang said that on April 16 and 21, PSB officials from both Guangzhou and Shenyang, Liaoning Province, had come to see her and offered her the opportunity to visit Guo at the detention center, on the condition that she encourage him to confess to the accusations against him. Zhang, convinced of her husband's innocence and believing that he has been framed, refused the offer.

Guo Feixiong, who provided legal advice in a number of controversial rights defense cases, was detained on September 14, 2006, and formally arrested on September 30, 2006, on suspicion of "illegal business activity" in connection with editing a book published in Liaoning Province regarding a political scandal in Shenyang City. The Guangzhou PSB referred the case to Guangzhou's Tianhe District Procuratorate, but the case was sent back on January 19, 2007, for supplemental investigation. On January 20, the case was transferred to the authorities in Liaoning Province. The case was referred again to the Tianhe District Procuratorate on February 17, but the procuratorate sent it back once more to the Guangzhou Municipal PSB on March 1 for another round of supplemental investigation.

Guo Feixiong was detained and beaten on a number of occasions in 2005 and 2006 before he was formally arrested. Since being taken into formal detention, he has told his lawyer that he has been subjected to severe physical abuse and round-the-clock interrogation, and he has reportedly gone on hunger strike for a total of 40 days in protest against his treatment.

HRIC condemns the abuse and torture that Guo Feixiong has been subjected to in detention, and calls upon the authorities to immediately ensure his physical safety, including by granting him access to medical care. In light of China's upcoming review by the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) in May 2008, the physical safety of individuals in detention should be a primary concern of the authorities. Finally, HRIC urges the authorities to allow Guo's family to visit him in prison without any strings attached to that visit.


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