Zhang Haitao (张海涛)

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Zhang Haitao (张海涛)

Zhang Haitao 张海涛

Zhang Haitao

Crime: “Inciting subversion of state power” & “providing intelligence overseas”

Length of Punishment: 19 years

Court: Urumqi City Intermediate People’s Court 

Trial Date: January 11, 2016

Sentencing Date: January 15, 2016

Dates of Detention/Arrest: June 27, 2015 (detained); July 31, 2015 (arrested)

Place of Incarceration: Shayar Nahiyisi (CH: Shaya) County Prison, Aqsu Wilayiti (CH: Aksu) Prefecture , Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Verdict: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court Criminal Verdict

Appeal Court: Xinjiang Higher People’s Court

Appeal Hearing Date: November 28, 2016

Appeal Hearing Ruling: Upheld original ruling

Appeal Verdict: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court Criminal Judgement Order

Background Information

Xinjiang-based activist Zhang Haitao (张海涛) was criminally detained on June 27, 2015, on suspicion of “inciting ethnic hatred” after he posted comments online critical of government policies. Urumqi police searched his home, seizing a computer, USB pen, and freezing his bank account. Police later arrested Zhang for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” before changing the charge against Zhang again in December 2015, when he was indicted, to the two that he was ultimately convicted of. Tried in January 2016, Zhang was sentenced four days later to 19 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” (15 years) and “providing intelligence overseas” (5 years). Since Zhang will serve his sentence for the two crimes consecutively, the court ordered him to serve a total of 19, and not 20, years. He was also fined 120,000 RMB (approximately 18,500 USD). The 15-year sentence for “inciting subversion” given to Zhang, a little-known activist, is extraordinarily harsh. In July 2016, Zhang’s wife Li Aijie (李爱杰) filed a complaint with a judge at the Xinjiang High Court over mistreatment that her husband has reportedly suffered at Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Detention Center. Zhang had allegedly been forced to wear heavy leg shackles continuously for six months starting in January 2016 after the ruling was handed down in the first-instance trial, and receives less food than other inmates.

Following his conviction, Zhang filed an appeal against the sentence. The appeal should have initially been heard by the Xinjiang Higher People’s Court before April 2016, but the courts approved a delay. In September 20, the presiding judge informed Zhang’s wife that the Supreme People’s Court had approved a second delay in the appeal hearing. The hearing was eventually held on November 28, 2016, and lasted 30 minutes before the court issued a decision upholding the original ruling.

Born in Henan Province in 1971, Zhang moved to Xinjiang in 1995 after losing his job at a state-owned enterprise. Following his return to Henan in 2009, he was seized by police on suspicion of fraud and sent back to Xinjiang. He was released nearly two months later and then began petitioning to seek redress for “wrongful detention,” which connected him to the rights defense movement. Zhang frequently posted online his opinions critical of government policies and comments on current events, and also gave interviews to overseas media. For a brief period, he contributed articles to the website of a human rights group based inside China. The court cited these activities in its verdict as evidence of “providing intelligence overseas.”

Further Information

[CHRB] Freedom of Association Under Assault in China: Arbitrary Detentions & Disappearances (1/8-21/2016)

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