Recent News about Wang Dan

  Wang Dan's Appeal Denied - November 15, 1996

A Chinese court rejected Wang Dan's appeal of his 11-year prison, giving him not a single chance to speak in a hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes. Only the judge spoke, announcing the Beijing Higher Level People's Court decision upholding the trial court's verdict, said Wang's mother, Wang Lingyun.

"I'm extremely angry,'' his mother said later by telephone from her home. "Afterward, I just sat outside the court in protest.''

No reports of Wang Dan's trial or appeal have been published or aired by state-run media. While being careful not to arouse public resentment, Chinese Communist Party leaders have used Wang's conviction to signal their intention to silence all dissent. Unlike many older dissidents who have languished in prison for years, Wang is known by many Chinese, especially in Beijing.

Just as they did during the trial, police patrolled the area outside the courthouse Friday. No foreign reporters or other foreign observers were allowed in.

His mother said the family will petition for a second appeal hearing.

Wang Dan Sentenced - October 30, 1996

Wang Dan was sentenced today to 11 years in prison for plotting to overthrow the Chinese government.

Amnesty International commented on the trial: "Wang Dan's trial was a parody of justice. It is clear that the verdict and sentence against him had been decided in advance and that he had no chance of receiving a fair trial... Wang Dan should never have been put on trial in the first place. He has done nothing but write articles expressing his views and had contact with dissidents in China and overseas."

Wang Dan was found guilty of "conspiring to subvert the government" at the outcome of a four hour trial. The prosecutor appeared to offer little evidence to support charges that Wang had plotted to "subvert the government." The indictment cited articles Wang had written, conversations he had with other dissidents about how to promote democracy and links with peaceful exile groups. It also mentioned money Wang received from a Los Angeles group for a University of California correspondence course and funds he helped funnel to families of imprisoned activists.

Independent observers were excluded from the hearing, even though Chinese official sources had announced in advance that the trial would be open to the public. Foreign journalists and diplomats who had asked to attend the trial were prevented from entering the courtroom by cordons of security officials. Amnesty International, who had also asked to attend, was told by a Chinese embassy official on 28 October that the trial was an "internal matter" and "outsiders" were not needed.

The verdict, which according to Wang Dan's mother took ten minutes to read out, had obviously been prepared in advance. Just one hour after the verdict was passed, the official Xinhua news agency published a lengthy interview, translated into English, with the chief trial judge.

Nowhere else in the world could the holding, translation and publication of such a long interview with the presiding judge at a major trial have been done within one hour of the verdict being passed. It is clear the main text of the interview had been prepared before the trial even started.

Wang Dan pleaded not guilty at his trial and was defended by his mother and a defence lawyer. He was found guilty as charged and sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment, plus an additional two years' deprivation of political rights. His relatives have indicated that he will appeal against the verdict and sentence.

Wang Dan Charged - October 29, 1996

After 17 months of silence, the Chinese government has formally brought charges against dissident Wang Dan. The charges include conspiracy to overthrow the government, including publishing anti-government articles while abroad, raising money to support needy dissidents, and accepting a scholarship from the University of California. The charges carry an expected sentence of at least 10 years in prison.

Wang Dan has spent the last 17 months in detention at a secret police center, where he was not allowed visits from his family.

Wang is accused of publishing critical articles in overseas newspapers and magazines in the 3 years following his release from jail. He was also accused of taking part in home-study courses organized by the University of California and for accepting a scholarship to finance his study. Further, Chinese authorities accused him of raising money to ease the lives of dissidents who have been thrown out of jobs, denied diplomas, or been unable to find jobs because they were under heavy surveillance. He is also accused of accepting donations and economic aid from overseas organizations.

Wang said he had done nothing wrong, and the charges against him were groundless, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said in a statement.

"Of course he has done nothing to violate Chinese law,'' his father, Wang Xian, said in an interview. He said his son was coughing often, and that the family was worried about his health.

Wang was a Beijing University who helped lead the demonstrations that swept Beijing in 1989. He was No. 1 on the government's most-wanted list after the military violently quelled the protests in Beijing in June 1989.

He was convicted of agitation against the government and sentenced to prison. After he was released in 1993, Wang again worked for political reform. Police took him into detention last year after he organized the signing of a petition calling for freedom and tolerance.

Wang's latest trial is set to begin on Wednesday, October 30, 1996.

Support Democracy in China continues to support Wang Dan's struggle for freedom.

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