Chinese activist ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’ jailed for eight years

Yan Xin (L) and Ge Yongxi (R), lawyers for activist Wu Gan known by the online pseudonym “Super Vulgar Butcher,” sit at a hotel after Wu was sentenced at a court in Tianjin on December 26, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 26 December 2017

Chinese activist ‘Super Vulgar Butcher’ jailed for eight years

TIANJIN: A Chinese court sentenced an activist known by the online pseudonym “Super Vulgar Butcher” to eight years in prison Tuesday after he refused to plead guilty to charges of “subverting state power.”
Wu Gan, who was taken into police custody in May 2015, attracted authorities’ attention with performance art and caustic commentary on Chinese society and politics that he published online.
He was “dissatisfied with the current system of governance, and that gradually produced thoughts of subverting state power,” a court in Tianjin said in a statement explaining the verdict.
By “hyping up hot incidents,” Wu “attacked the national system that is the basis for state authority and the constitution,” the court said.
Wu also “spread fake information” and “insulted others online,” the statement said.
The prominent activist, with his recognizable bald head and glasses, became the subject of the state’s ire for using his larger-than-life online persona to draw public attention to human rights cases.
His nickname was a response to complaints about his use of “crude language.”
He became the subject of intense scrutiny by state media in May 2015 in what many activists saw as a sign of a looming crackdown on human rights defenders.
Wu’s lawyer Yan Xin said the sentence was aimed at setting “an example so other activists will say they are guilty when accused of crimes against the state.”
“It’s clear (Wu) was sentenced so harshly because he refused to plead guilty,” he said.
The verdict came the same day as a court in Changsha elected to exempt former human rights lawyer Xie Yang from serving a sentence after he pleaded guilty to charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”
Xie was released on bail in May after what critics described as a show trial.
He had previously claimed that police used “sleep deprivation, long interrogations, beatings, death threats, humiliations” on him.
But on Tuesday he denied he had been tortured, according to a video on the court’s official Weibo social media account.
“On the question of torture, I produced a negative effect on and misled the public, and I again apologize,” he told judges.
The court said he would face no criminal penalties following his full confession.
Both Xie and Wu were among hundreds of legal staff and activists detained in 2015’s so-called “709 crackdown,” where authorities detained more than 200 people, including lawyers who took on civil rights cases considered sensitive by the ruling Communist Party.


EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

Updated 13 December 2019

EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

  • EU is concerned about the rapid speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe
  • Johnson has until July 1 to request for a trade talks extension

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday warned of the tight timing for securing a trade deal with Britain, hours after Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won a crushing election victory.
“The time frame ahead of us is very challenging,” von der Leyen said, following a discussion by EU leaders on the way forward after Brexit, now expected on January 31.
On the “first of February, we go to work,” she said.
EU Council President Charles Michel warned that the 27 member states would not accept a deal blindly, stressing that the bloc would insist that Britain respect European norms to win the deal.
“There is no question of concluding a deal at any price, said Michel, who coordinates EU summits, after the talks.
“Negotiations are over when the results are balanced and guarantee respect for the different concerns,” the former Belgian premier said.
“We have a way of doing things based on experience, transparency and maintaining unity” in the EU, he added.
EU is worried about the breakneck speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe and any British effort to undermine the unity among the remaining 27 members.
In a text released after the talks, the 27 EU leaders called for “as close as possible a future relationship with the UK” while warning that it “will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will direct trade negotiations, which the leaders will follow closely “and provide further guidance as necessary, fully consistent with the EU’s best interest,” conclusions added.
Johnson has until July 1 to ask for a trade talks extension.
If he refuses to extend the negotiation period, a no-deal Brexit will loom at the end of 2020, with Britain in danger of an abrupt cut in trade ties with Europe, endangering its economy.