China bans Falun Gong defense attorneys


From the Dallas Morning News. By Cara Anna

BEIJING (AP) — Two Chinese lawyers who represented a Falun Gong practitioner face the permanent loss of their legal licenses — a new government tactic to tighten its grip on human rights defenders.

Dozens of lawyers are expected to attend Thursday's hearing in support of Tang Jitian and Liu Wei, who are accused of "disrupting the order of the court" during an April 2009 trial in which they defended a follower of the banned spiritual group.

The two lawyers say they were illegally videotaped during the trial, interrupted repeatedly by the judge and ordered out of the courtroom by unidentified men.

An e-mail circulating among Chinese lawyers Wednesday said Tang and Liu would be the first lawyers in Beijing, where most rights lawyers are based, to lose their licenses permanently without having a criminal conviction.

An official with the Beijing Justice Bureau, which will hold Thursday's hearing, hung up when reached by phone. Xiao Lizhu said she was too busy to talk about the case. The secretary of the Beijing Bar Association, Li Bingru, also hung up when called.

Lawyers in China have faced increasing restrictions over the past year, with a prominent Beijing-based legal nonprofit group shut down and the licenses of more than 50 Beijing lawyers not renewed.

This time, lawyers and human rights groups say the action being taken against Tang and Liu is even more serious because having a license revoked means a lifetime ban on practicing law...

Read the complete story at the Dallas Morning News.

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