Procuratorate Delivers Indictment against Liu Xiaobo, Trial Date to Be Set

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Procuratorate Delivers Indictment against Liu Xiaobo, Trial Date to Be Set

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, December 11, 2009)- The Beijing Municipal Procuratorate has formally indicted activist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), initiating prosecution against him for “inciting subversion of state power.” His case will be heard by Beijing Number One Intermediate People’s Court, though a date has yet to be set. Liu’s lawyers have not been able to meet with their client since the indictment was announced.

“After holding Liu Xiaobo over one year without a trial, officials have now sped up prosecution and we worry that they will rush the case through trial procedures during the holiday season,” said Jiang Yingying, CHRD Researcher. “We are seriously concerned that Liu will not get a fair and open trial, and his legal rights will not be respected.”

According to Liu’s lawyers, the formal indictment is similar in content to the police report submitted by the Beijing Public Security Bureau to the Beijing Municipal Procuratorate on December 8; that is, Liu Xiaobo committed a “major crime” in drafting Charter 08 with others, and should be convicted of “inciting subversion of state power.”

Liu’s experience in some ways parallels that of Beijing activist Hu Jia (胡佳), who was detained during the holidays (December 27, 2007) after speaking out about human rights abuses related to preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games, and whose trial date was set only 22 days after his case was transferred to the Procuratorate on February 19, 2008. Lawyers for Hu believed that authorities were attempting to catch them unprepared for Hu’s trial, as, like Liu, police had amassed hundreds of pages of evidence against their client. Liu’s lawyers have barely had enough time to review all the files in his case.


CHRD strongly condemns the indictment against Liu Xiaobo purely on the basis of his peaceful expressions and demands his immediate and unconditional release.

The charge of “inciting state power,” stipulated in Article 105(2) of the Chinese Criminal Code, should be dropped immediately. Liu Xiaobo is being punished solely for the peaceful activities of expressing his opinions and organizing fellow citizens to voice their common concerns and ideas regarding the promotion of human rights and democracy. The text of Article 105(2) is vague and does not require that any potential or actual effect of an act be demonstrated in order for a crime to have been committed. As the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted in its 1997 report following the revision of the Chinese Criminal Code, “Under Article 105, even communication of thoughts and ideas or, for that matter, opinions, without intent to commit any violent or criminal act, may be regarded as subversion. Ordinarily, an act of subversion requires more than mere communication of thoughts and ideas.”[i]

The Beijing Intermediate People’s Court should refuse to hear arguments that Liu Xiaobo incited subversion of state power merely by expressing his opinions.

If, however, the court proceeds with Liu’s trial, as is expected, we demand that Liu’s legal rights be respected and he be provided with a fair and open trial. In the most recent case of a high-profile activist charged with “inciting subversion of state power,” the Chengdu City Intermediate Court conducted the trial of Sichuan activist Tan Zuoren (谭作人) in a little over two hours before a courtroom that was effectively closed to the public. Police intimidated, beat, and detained witnesses seeking to testify on behalf of Tan to prevent them from attending. The Beijing Number One Intermediate Court must ensure that these sorts of abuses do not take place during Liu’s trial.


Human Rights Day in China: Liu Xiaobo Accused of ‘Major Crime’ for Drafting Charter 08,” December 10, 2009, /Article/Class9/Class10/200912/20091210040528_18780.html

Media Contacts

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 301 547 9286
Jiang Yingying, Researcher (English and Mandarin), +852 8170 0237

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