China jails Internet writer for subversion, disbars lawyer

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court jailed a dissident Internet writer for four years on subversion charges on Thursday for posting anti-government articles online, his disbarred lawyer said, the latest case in a government crackdown on dissent.

The Intermediate People’s Court in Hangzhou, capital of the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, convicted Chen Shuqing of “inciting to subvert state power”, Li Jianqiang told Reuters.

“It’s totally wrong to convict him ... He was only expressing his political views. He should enjoy free speech,” said the lawyer, whose license was not renewed by authorities in his home province of Shandong, on China’s east coast.

Li told Reuters he suspected he was barred from practicing for at least one year from June because he took on “too many sensitive cases”.

Chen, who has been in custody since last September, will appeal.

Court officials were not immediately available for comment.

China is the world’s leading jailer of journalists and writers. At least five writers have been jailed for up to 10 years since 2005 as part of a crackdown on dissent, according to the China chapter of International PEN, an association founded in Britain in 1921 to defend freedom of speech.