Updated: Human rights lawyer and Chinese citizen controlled by SWAT team members

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Xie Yang stands trial at the
Changsha Intermediate People's
Court on May 8, 2017.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

Update: Xie Yang and Chen Yanhui were released at 3:00 p.m. Beijing time on Sept. 26, 2019. They had spent more than 14 hours contained by officials.

(Hengyang, Hunan—Sept. 25, 2019) Authorities controlled human rights lawyer Xie Yang and a Chinese citizen, Chen Yanhui, this evening when they were discussing the Sept. 23 death of Wang Meiyu, a prisoner who died in the Hengyang Detention Center.

In the middle of Xie and Chen’s conversation at the Shennong Hotel in Hengyang, Hunan, six armed SWAT team members rushed in and contained them. Plainclothes police and hotel employees watched the room’s doorway, while the SWAT team members handled the staircase.

Xie’s wife, Chen Guiqiu, noted on social media that he was still being controlled as of 1:16 a.m. on Sept. 26 Beijing time. Her attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful, leading her to believe he is still being restricted by the officials.

Xie was previously taken into police custody for his human rights work on July 11, 2015, as part of a nationwide crackdown on rights attorneys known colloquially as the "709 Incident." During Xie's time in prison, he revealed that he had been tortured and that the lawyers appointed by his family were prevented from meeting him numerous times. To combat these accusations, China launched a propaganda campaign, claiming the reports were false. They also forced Xie Yang to deny his torture allegations during his trial.

Prior to his trial, Xie made a written declaration stating that he was not guilty of subversion, the charge which authorities used to imprison him, and said he would not plead guilty unless it was for the sake of his family or because of torture.

Xie was ultimately ruled "exempt from criminal penalty," a decision that means Xie should be legally free but also that the court had convicted him. He continues to be constantly monitored by the authorities.

A video taken inside the hotel room can be viewed below.

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