US, Germany urge China to release jailed activist

Wu Gan, a blogger better known by his online name 'Super Vulgar Butcher' was detained in May 2015 and charged with subversion Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Beijing, China Dec 27, 2017, 09.07 AM (IST)

The United States and Germany called on China to immediately release a prominent human rights activist who was jailed for eight years on Tuesday for subversion, the harshest sentence passed in a recent crackdown on activism.

Wu Gan, a blogger better known by his online name "Super Vulgar Butcher", regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. He was detained in May 2015 and charged with subversion.

In a separate case, also on Tuesday, rights lawyer Xie Yang avoided criminal punishment despite being found guilty of inciting subversion, because he admitted his crimes.

"We call on the Chinese authorities to release Wu immediately," the US and Germany embassies in China said in a joint statement.

"As Xie has been exempted from punishment, we urge China to allow Xie to resume his professional activities without preconditions and be free of any restrictions."

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Beijing frequently denounces foreign concern about rights cases as an interference in China's internal affairs and says China is a country with rule of law.

Wu's sentence was the most severe in what rights groups have called an unprecedented attack on China's rights activists and lawyers, known as the 709 crackdown, which began in full force on July 9, 2015.

The hardline approach has shown no sign of softening as Chinese President Xi Jinping enters his second five-year term in office.