A leading Chinese democracy and rights activist was sentenced to nine years in jail on Friday.
Chen Wei was sentenced by a court in China’s southwestern Sichuan province to nine years behind bars over inciting subversion of the state, according to the Chinese court.
“Everyone has opinions, but he was brave enough to express his openly and was punished for it,” Chen’s wife, Wang Xiaoyan, told CNN.
She told the news agency that she felt “pure anger” at how her husband had been handled by the Chinese authorities. Chen has been in detention since February of this year, but his family was never notified of the reasoning behind his detention.
Chen’s wife told CNN that her husband’s trial was “a joke” and added that his lawyer was not allowed to speak during the trial. She also said that the lawyer was consistently interrupted as he attempted to defend his client. Furthermore, Chen was not allowed to make a personal statement at his trial, although he was entitled to address the court himself.
Chen is a well-known pro-democracy advocate but argues that he never had plans to “overthrow any regime.”
Chen was detained by the government after he posted online essays for foreign websites that discussed the political situation in China, pushing for greater openness in Chinese society and calling for a democratic system to emerge through peaceful means.
The People’s Republic of China has been ruled by the Communist Party of China since 1949.
China’s biggest crackdown on political plurality occurred in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protest. Chen was part of the 1989 protests, in which the Chinese government trampled dozens of students and protestors at Beijing’s famous central square and at protests throughout the country.
After his trial and sentencing on Friday, Chen warned the Chinese court, “dictatorship will fail, democracy will prevail.”