A human rights lawyer who handled the case of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists detained in China had his licence revoked Friday, he told AFP, a move he said was triggered by the sensitivity of the case for Beijing.
Lu Siwei — together with another rights lawyer Ren Quanniu — was appointed by families of two of the “Hong Kong 12”, a group intercepted last August trying to flee the city by boat for Taiwan.
The attempted escape came after the Chinese government imposed a sweeping national security law on the financial hub; and some on the boat already faced prosecution in Hong Kong for activities linked to 2019’s huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.
Chinese authorities did not recognise the two lawyers appointed by the families, and Lu was denied access to the defendants in mainland China.
But just days after 10 of the group received jail sentences in late December, both lawyers received notices from mainland authorities saying their licenses were to be revoked.
Lu said after the ruling on Friday that handling a number of sensitive cases had “marked my destiny”.
The lawyer was accused of publishing “inappropriate remarks on the internet (and) seriously damaging the lawyer industry’s image”, according to the Sichuan justice department.
Lu told AFP before the hearing that he believed the notice was “just a cover” and that the Hong Kong case was likely a decisive factor behind the revocation.
More than a dozen Chinese rights lawyers have had their licenses cancelled or revoked in recent years in what activists have said is an effective silencing by authorities.
The other lawyer Ren told AFP last week he also rejected the charges against him, which accuse him of “causing a negative impact on society.”
Ren also represented Wuhan citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who was jailed for four years in late December.
His hearing is next week.