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Another attack on Hu Jia's lawyer as authorities prepare for activist's trial

(RSF/IFEX) - Reiterating its call for the immediate and unconditional release of activist Hu Jia, Reporters Without Borders urged the international community, on 12 March 2008, to keep up the pressure in order to prevent him from being tried on a charge of inciting subversion of state authority.

"Everything indicates that the authorities plan to begin Hu's trial very soon although no guarantees of fairness or transparency have been given," the press freedom organisation said. "The recent abduction of one of his friends, lawyer Teng Biao, is an especially disturbing sign. If the trial nonetheless goes ahead, diplomats and journalists must be free to attend it."

One of Hu's lawyers, Li Fangping, was told on 7 March that the subversion charge against Hu had been registered by the Beijing prosecutor's office. The evidence file submitted by the political police reportedly weighed more than 4 kilos. The Beijing people's intermediate court No. 1 could begin his trial soon, one that could end with him getting a long prison sentence.

The police investigation has reportedly concentrated on articles by Hu that were posted online, especially on the overseas Chinese-run website Boxun ( http://www.Boxun.com ), and some of his statements to the foreign press about the Olympic Games. "It is just a matter of time," Li Fangping said.

Hu's other lawyer, Li Jingsong, told Radio Free Asia the trial could start during the week of 10 March and that the hearings could be open to the public because the authorities have not so far ruled that the case involves state secrets.

Human rights lawyer Teng Biao was released by the authorities on 8 March after being held and interrogated in complete secrecy for two days. A close friend and supporter of Hu and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, he was arrested by police on the evening of 6 March and was bundled into an official car with a bag over his head. "This is all I can tell you for the moment, it would not be appropriate to say any more," he said.

Another lawyer, Li Heping, was attacked by public security officers as he was driving his son to school in Beijing on the morning of 7 March. The police car that had been following him from his home deliberately drove into the back of his car. As a result, he has been suffering from back pains. Li, who is under permanent police surveillance, was kidnapped and beaten on 29 September 2007, and was warned against continuing to support Hu Jia.

Updates the Hu Jia case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/90966

For information on the Teng Biao case see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91568/

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