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


The Communist Party is targeting grassroots movements that might gain momentum to threaten its rule.

FILE - In this July 17, 2009 file photo, legal scholar Xu Zhiyong, is seen at a meeting in Beijing, China. Xu, one of China's most well-known civil rights advocates, has been formally arrested on charges of disrupting public order, as Beijing cracks down on grassroots efforts to build a civil society that may challenge its rule. Xu, a founder of the loosely organized New Citizens group, has called for people to hold monthly dinners to discuss China's constitution and other issues. Several citizen activists who want to hold public officials to account and champion the underprivileged stand trial this week in Beijing in cases reflecting an intense campaign under leader Xi Jinping to quash any potential threat to China’s one-party rule. (AP Photo/Greg Baker, File) AP Photo/Greg Baker, File\n

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.

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)

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:

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