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Dissident Lawyer’s Trial Date Set

August 25, 2003

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai lawyer Zheng Enchong will be tried in secret on August 28 on charges of “illegally providing state secrets to entities outside of China.” Sources in China say Zheng’s case will be heard before the Shanghai Second Intermediate People’s Court starting at 1 p.m. The lack of public access to the proceedings is seen to reflect the political sensitivity of the case.

Zheng Enchong’s lawyer, Guo Guoting, reported the latest development in the case on law-related Internet Web sites after meeting with Zheng for the first time for an hour and a half on the afternoon of August 22. Zheng is reported to have told Guo that he was arrested because he offended powerful local interests through his involvement in a lawsuit alleging official collusion with a wealthy property developer, Zhou Zhengyi, and through his long-term legal assistance to families displaced in urban redevelopment schemes. Zheng maintained his innocence, and asked Guo to pass on his gratitude to all those inside and outside of China who have expressed concern over his situation and over the state of justice in China. Another lawyer, Zhang Sizhi, who has represented many political dissidents in court, has already left Beijing on his way to Shanghai to serve as Zheng’s additional legal counsel.

Zheng Enchong was originally detained on June 6 after assisting displaced families in more than 500 cases relating to Shanghai’s urban redevelopment projects. Following revocation of his law license in 2001, Zheng continued to provide legal advice in such cases, including assisting families suing a company controlled by Zhou Zhengyi. The Shanghai Procuratorate earlier this month referred Zheng’s case to the courts for formal proceedings on the charge of illegally obtaining state secrets.

HRIC condemns the lack of an open trial for Zheng Enchong. “There is obviously a strong public interest in this case, and every reason to fear miscarriage of justice without public scrutiny,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The repeated amendment of the charge against Zheng, from ‘illegally obtaining state secrets’ to ‘stealing state secrets for an outside entity’ to the current charge of ‘illegal providing state secrets to an outside entity’ is just one example of abuse of process in this case.”

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