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【Briefing on Wang Quanzhang’s Trial in Closed Court|Family under house arrest, supporters intercepted and detained】

27 December 2018


The trial of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who has been detained for over 3 years for allegedly “subversion of state power”, was conducted at 8.30am on 26th December. At 3:45pm on 26 December, the No.2 Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin announced that “due to the state secrets involved in this case, the court decided not to open the trial to the public. The verdict of this case will be pronounced at a later date”. Doubts over the fairness of the trial persist as Wang has been tried behind closed doors. The abusive use of the broad and imprecise definition of state secrecy against rights defenders in China has long and often been criticized both in and out of the country.


On 25 and 26 December, Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, has been held under house arrest. Li was notified by public security officers that she was forbidden to attend her husband’s trial in Tianjin. On 26Dec, she was kept under surveillance by plainclothes police who stationed around the residential building, while national security officers drove away journalists and stood guard over the entrances to keep Li from leaving in the morning before the trial. Wang Quanxiu, Wang’s elder sister, was being followed after boarding the train to Tianjin in the morning. Upon arrival in Tianjin, she went missing for a shot period. It was later known that she had been sent back home, and her cell phone was taken away in Tianjin.


The highest level of security measures was deployed by the authorities to block spectating crowd. The area around the courthouse was on lockdown, with roadblocks put up even on streets and roads far from the courthouse. Despite their efforts to spectate and support Wang Quanzhang at the No.2 Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin, numerous rights activists and supporters were taken away and detained, including citizen He Jiawei, Xu Yan (wife of lawyer Yu Wensheng), citizens Zhang Zhecheng, Wang Sue, Yang Chunlin (rights defender from Heilongjiang province), rights defenders Quan Shixin, Wang Fulei, citizens from Beijing including Li Meiqing, Ye Hongxia and Chen Yanhua, etc. (Please refer to the appendix for details).


We strongly condemn the Chinese authorities’ unreasonable and rough treatment of Wang Quanzhang’s family and supporters, and we demand the immediate release of activists and citizens detained for supporting Wang Quanzhang.


We also call upon the public and the international community to continuously pay close attention to the latest development of Wang Quanzhang’s case, and to urge the Chinese government to acquit and release Wang Quanzhang immediately and unconditionally.



In the evening on 25th, citizen He Jiawei, who planned to spectate and support lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s case, was arrested by police after alighting at Tianjin station. He was first taken to Zhanqian Police Station, and later transferred to Chunhua Police Station in Hedong, Tianjin. He has not been released up till 12pm on 26thDec.


5:10am on 26th, Wang Quanxiu, Wang Quanzhang’s sister, set off to attend the trial in Tianjin, and noticed that she had been followed on the train. She stopped posting updates after 8:39am. At 4:09pm, it was known that she had been sent back home and her phone was taken away in Tianjin.


5:30am on 26th, Li Wenzu and Wang Qiaoling left Li’s flat, on their way to depart for Tianjin. Once opening the iron door of the building, they found themselves surrounded by more than a dozen people, including reporters and national security officers. After driving away the reporters, the security officers kept guard of the neighbourhood entrances and barred Li from setting out to Tianjin to attend the trial.


8:30am on 26th, Zhang Zhecheng from Hang Zhou held up a slogan of “Acquit and Release Wang Quanzhang”, opposite the No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin. He was then taken away by the local national security officers.


9:17am on 26th, Xu Yan, wife of human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, and citizen Wang Sue intended to attend the trial but were both taken away by the local national security organ in Tianjin. They were led to separate police stations. Shortly after 2pm, they were released from the police stations.


10:38am on 26th, Yang Chunlin, a rights defender from Heilongjiang shouted his support for Wang Quanzhang outside the courthouse, and was taken away from the scene.


11:11am on 26th, rights defenders Quan Shixin and Wang Fulei went incommunicado while buying water on the opposite side of the No.2 Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin.


11:43am on 26th, Beijing citizens Li Meiqing, Ye Hongxia and Chen Yanhua arrived at the vicinity of the courthouse. Li was sent away forcibly from Tianjin by personnel from Heyi Police Station to her mother’s home. Li was not allowed to leave the guarded flat.


3:45pm on 26th, the official website of the No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin posted a short announcement that the case’s verdict would be handed down at a later date.


(Updates till 5:30pm on 26th December, 2018)