(BEIJING) — A Chinese activist was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday for inciting subversion.
Chen Wei, who was arrested along with several activists during a government crackdown in February, was sentenced in a closed door trial in a Suining court, in Sichuan province.
Chen, 42, wrote online essays in which he criticized the Chinese government and called for freedom of speech. Wei insisted that he was not guilty but merely expressing his opinion.
BBC news reports that according to Mr. Chen’s lawyer Zheng Jianwei, his client told the court: “Dictatorship will fail, democracy will prevail.”
Chen was also arrested and jailed for protesting during the 1989 in Tiananmen Square.
The nine year sentence is the longest imposed so far on an activist.
“This severe punishment against an activist, caught up in the Jasmine crackdown, shows how the Chinese government’s nerves are still jittery,” said Wang Songlian, a researcher with the Hong Kong-based advocacy group, Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Copyright 2011ABC News Radio
Ivana Kottasova and Armelle De Oliveira, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN