Appeal court rejects Chinese dissident's plea

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A Chinese appeal court yesterday took 10 minutes to uphold the 11-year jail sentence for subversion passed last month on Wang Dan, the 27-year- old pro-democracy activist. After the hearing, Mr Wang's mother, Wang Lingyun, said: "It was all prepared in advance. I am very angry. It was very unfair."

Mrs Wang said that after the verdict, she sat outside the court for an hour "in protest". No one would have seen her, as public security officials cleared the area and kept foreign journalists away.

Appeals rarely succeed in China, and never in cases involving political dissent, so the outcome was no surprise. Wang was not allowed to speak at the hearing, and the judge at the Peking Higher Level People's Court simply read a short, prepared statement. The original trial lasted three hours, in contrast to the 17-month detention period Wang endured before he was formally charged, a period that will not be included in his jail term.

Wang has already served a three-and-a-half-year sentence for his role as a student leader in the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

The recent accusation of subversion rested on evidence that he published articles critical of the government in the foreign media, accepted money from foreign dissident organisations and had contact with other Chinese dissidents. Mr Wang pleaded not guilty.