BEIJING — Underscoring the government's resolve to crush dissent, a Chinese court today sentenced a prominent dissident to 13 years in prison, accusing him of trying to subvert state power by organizing an opposition party, a human rights group said.
Xu Wenli's lawyer informed the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China about the harsh sentence, said the center's director, Lu Siqing.
Xu, 55, refused to answer any questions put to him by the judge and prosecution, his court-appointed lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said.
"This is political persecution," Mo quoted Xu as telling the court after sentencing.
Xu's conviction deprives the nascent China Democracy Party of a potent organizer and a moderate voice. He is the most influential dissident leader to have been tried in a three-week campaign that has seen at least 32 members detained or questioned.