June 20: The European Union on Friday demanded the immediate release of a Chinese human rights lawyer sentenced to four years in jail, saying his right to a fair trial was not respected.

Yu Wensheng was sentenced Wednesday, after two years in detention, on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” after penning an open letter calling for constitutional reforms.

An EU spokesperson said Yu’s trial was held behind closed doors and he was deprived of his right to a fair trial with a proper defence, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The European Union expects China to ensure full respect of the rule of law, to establish fair trial guarantees and to investigate thoroughly all reported cases of arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment and torture of human rights defenders and their families,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

“We call for the immediate release of Yu Wensheng.”

The case will add to EU-Chinese tensions just days before of a video summit meeting, with relations already on edge over a host of disputes from trade issues to security and human rights.

The European parliament on Friday also condemned China’s new national security law for Hong Kong as a “comprehensive assault” on the territory’s freedom and demanded the EU prepare sanctions.

MEPs passed a resolution warning Beijing against eroding the special freedoms and autonomy Hong Kong has enjoyed since being handed over to China by Britain in 1997.

“The unilateral introduction of national security legislation by Beijing in Hong Kong… is a comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms,” the parliament said.


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