BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese Internet writer has been charged with attempting to “subvert state power” for backing a movement by exiled dissidents to hold free elections for a new democratic government, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Yang Tianshui, 45, faces up to 15 years in prison for posting essays on the Internet supporting the “Velvet Action of China,” Attorney Li Jianqiang said by telephone.
Named after the “Velvet Revolution” that peacefully overthrew communism in the former Czechoslovakia, the movement held an online ballot for government leaders last year. But it attracted scant interest, with just over 500 people casting a vote.
The trial of Yang, who has been in custody since last December, is due to be in Nanjing, capital of the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, in May.
Prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.
If convicted, Yang, a member of the China chapter of International PEN, would be the second writer to be jailed this year.
At least five writers were jailed for up to 10 years last year as part of a government crackdown on free speech, according to the China chapter of International PEN, an association founded in Britain in 1921 to defend freedom of speech.
Yang was also accused of illegally receiving overseas financial assistance and plotting to form the Jiangsu and Anhui provincial chapters of the outlawed China Democracy Party, the lawyer said.
Yang has already served 10 years in prison for “counter-revolutionary” crimes, or subversion. He was released in 2000.