In Communist Party Crackdown, China Sentences Civil Rights Activist to Four Years in Jail for Disrupting Public Order

Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing, China, in July 17, 2009 file photo. (Image source: AP/Greg Baker, File)

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

BEIJING (AP) — A Beijing court has sentenced a legal scholar and founder of a social movement to four years in jail for disrupting order in public places, in a case that the U.S. government and other critics say is retribution against his push to fight corruption and create equal educational opportunities.

Amid tight security Sunday, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court handed down the verdict against Xu Zhiyong, founder of the loosely knit New Citizens movement.

Xu’s conviction has been expected, as his prosecution is the centerpiece of a crackdown by the ruling Communist Party on grassroots movements that might gain momentum to threaten its rule.

Several more activists have stood trials or are scheduled to appear in court — all on the same charge of disrupting public order.

In Communist Party Crackdown, China Sentences Civil Rights Activist to Four Years in Jail for Disrupting Public Order

Chinese policemen manhandle a photographer, center, as he photographs Zhang Qingfang, lawyer of legal scholar and founder of the New Citizens movement Xu Zhiyong speaking to the media near the No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, where Xu appeared for his verdict in Beijing Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. (Image source: AP/Andy Wong)

In Communist Party Crackdown, China Sentences Civil Rights Activist to Four Years in Jail for Disrupting Public Order

A supporter, center, of Xu Zhiyong is detained by policemen while she gathers with other supporters near the Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, where legal scholar and founder of the New Citizens movement Xu stands trial, in Beijing Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (Image source: AP/Andy Wong)

Here’s a report on the atmosphere surrounding the trial preceding Xu’s verdict:

This Wall Street Journal video outlines what the New Citizens Movement is all about: