BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese writer and journalist who was arrested after protesting against a power plant in southwest China was sentenced Friday to three years in prison on charges of subverting state power, his lawyer said.
Chen Daojun was sentenced in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, in a trial lasting a little more than 30 minutes, said Beijing-based lawyer Zhu Jiufu.
Three of Chen's articles were presented in court as evidence that he attacked the Communist Party, Zhu said.
"In my opinion, he was only criticizing the party, and never said he would subvert it," Zhu said.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an overseas group, said Chen supported Tibetans who protested against Chinese rule in March. The uprising of Tibetans across western China marked the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in Tibet in nearly two decades.
Calls rang unanswered Friday at the Chengdu Intermediate Court.
Chen, 40, was detained five days after he participated in a demonstration on May 4 against the building of an ethylene plant and oil refinery in Pengzhou near Chengdu, according to Chen's wife, Zeng Qirong.
State media said about 200 people marched against plans to build the petrochemical plant because they believed it would seriously pollute Chengdu's air and water. Ethylene is a common industrial chemical that can be fatal in high concentrations.
The Sichuan Environmental Protection bureau has defended the project, saying it meets government environmental standards.
Zhu said Chen believed the real reason he was sentenced was for his role in the protest, although the court did not bring this up.
Chen worked for eight years on a Communist Party internal newspaper in Chengdu before becoming an editor at the Sichuan Daily, according to a friend, Li Yuanze.
PEN, the international organization that monitors human rights abuses against writers, said Chen had started to write essays and articles for overseas Chinese media in the last few years.