Authorities in China’s Sichuan province has informed a mainland lawyer, who helped one of the 10 Hong Kong activists for crossing the border, that his licence could be revoked for ‘making inappropriate remarks on the internet’.
This is seen as yet another instance of China’s growing crackdown on dissent in the country after it imposed the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong.
According to an official statement, Lu Siwei was told by the Department of Justice in Sichuan province that he had three days to request a hearing before authorities would make a final decision on his professional qualification.
If the department does not hear from him in that deadline, the lawyer will be regarded as having given up his rights, according to media reports.
In their statement, the Department of Justice said: “Our investigation has discovered that you have repeatedly made inappropriate remarks on the internet, the time range and messages involved were large. [These remarks] have done serious damage to the image of the legal profession, and caused negative effects on the society…The department plans to impose an administrative punishment by revoking your license … You have the right to make a statement, to defend yourself, and to request a hearing.”
In the past, Lu also represented Chinese dissident poet Wang Zang and his wife Wang Li, who were charged with subverting state power in July.
During that case, Lu highlighted that because of its vague definition, the subversion charge was used to suppress free speech.
A mainland lawyer familiar with the matter said the authorities were displeased with Lu’s repeated criticisms to the Hong Kong press about the plight of the detainees in Shenzhen.
“Revoking a license is equivalent to giving death penalty to a lawyer. This document has been widely circulated in the legal community in the mainland to serve as a warning,” he said.
Lu was initially appointed by the family of Quinn Moon, one of the 12 Hong Kong rights activists intercepted by the Chinese coastguard in August while attempting to reach Taiwan to avoid charges tied to 2019’s anti-government protests.
Last week, a Chinese court sentenced 10 Hong Kong activists between seven to three years in prison for illegal border crossing on Wednesday, despite international outcry and calls to free the detained Hong Kongers.
The two who organised the boat journey were sentenced to three years and two years, respectively, while the others received seven-month sentences, the court in Shenzhen said.
The group of activists arrested in August have been charged for offenses related to the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations due to the authoritarian National Security Law imposed by Beijing.