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Top Chinese Rights Lawyer Tried in Secret
Sarah Cook

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Prominent civil rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was secretly tried in Beijing on unspecified subversion charges this week, but the verdict remains unknown, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Tuesday.

"They concluded his trial in secret this morning," Gao's wife Geng He told a friend who recorded the conversation and gave it to RFA. "The family had not been informed. Nor do we know the two court-appointed attorneys. We've never met them. We know nothing."

Mo Shaoping, a lawyer appointed by Gao's family, told RFA that he was not notified of the trial before it took place and was not permitted to attend.

A letter from him and another lawyer to Gao's brother and wife states that the attorneys learned Monday that their client had been tried that morning by the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People's Court.

The two attorneys also reportedly discovered that the court had appointed two defense lawyers to represent Gao at the trial, where he was said to have confessed to the charges against him.

"The fact that the Court appointed two attorneys to represent him at the trial is something that defies common sense, logic, and the law," they wrote in the letter.

"We cannot comment on the claim that at the trial Gao Zhisheng confessed to the charges of subversion because: We were unable to meet with Gao Zhisheng to know his view on the charges; we have not seen the written indictment and evidence presented by the prosecution regarding 'subversion;' moreover, we did not attend the trial this morning," they wrote.

Gao, who was named one of China's top ten lawyers in 2001, has been detained since August. His arrest was the culmination of months of harassment, threats and beatings following his publication of an open letter exposing the torture of Falun Gong practitioners and his public withdrawal from the Chinese Communist Party. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have expressed fears that he has been tortured in custody.

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