Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Sentenced To More Than

Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Sentenced To More Than

A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer has been sentenced to four and a half years in jail for subverting state power.

Wang Quanzhang is known for defending political activists, victims of land seizures, and the banned religious group Falun Gong.

His wife and former business partners say Wang committed no crime.

Human rights groups are condemning the sentence.

Wang was arrested in 2015 as part of a mass incarceration of legal activists.

Most of the other activists detained in what's known as the "709 crackdown" — for July 9, the date most of them were taken — have since been sentenced or released.

Wang was the last to be sentenced.

"Wang's case stands out for the length of time he's been kept incommunicado – three-and-a-half years- prompting a UN rights group to call on Beijing to release him," NPR's Shanghai Correspondent Rob Schmitz reports.

Wang's prison term was lighter than expected, Schmitz says, and if he gets credit for the time he's been in detention, he could be released as early as next year.

But Wang's sentence has still drawn widespread condemnation from human rights groups and critics of the Chinese government, which routinely surveils dissidents and often takes them into custody.