BEIJING--A Chinese rights lawyer who was detained after he defended a practitioner of the banned Falun Gong movement has been released after being detained for more than two days.
Beijing lawyer Wang Quanzhang told The Associated Press that he was released early April 6 morning by the Jingjiang People's Court in eastern Jiangsu province about 56 hours after he was detained and placed under a 10-day judicial detention for disrupting court order.
An online statement posted by the Jingjiang court said Wang was released before the end of the 10-day period because the detention had already served as a punishment and warning, but Wang said he believed the court let him go because of public pressure.
Several prominent lawyers in China signed a letter urging the court to explain Wang's detention, and Wang said he received support from many rights lawyers and Chinese web users, who spread the word of his detention on China's active social media.
One of the lawyers who signed the letter, Li Fangping, said April 5 that the detention caused anxiety among lawyers and made them feel unsafe when dealing with the court.
Wang was detained April 3 at the end of a trial for a Falun Gong practitioner. The court said he was defending a person charged with “using an evil cult to undermine implementation of the law.”
Local judicial officials said Wang was in violation of a court order and the circumstances were “serious,” but gave no further details. Under Chinese law, a court is entitled to issue warnings, fines or order the detention of those who fail to follow court rules.
On April 6, Wang said he did not exhibit any disruptive behavior in court but used his mobile phone to photograph a document. It was the only copy he had, and he had been asked to submit it to the court.
Wang said he had asked for a judicial review of his detention.
It is unclear how this episode would affect the court case for the Falun Gong practitioner, Wang said.
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