China apprehends 'paid protesters' in human rights cases


Beijing: Chinese police claimed to have apprehended "paid protesters" engaged by lawyers and accused a law firm of staging protests with hired people to mount pressure on courts in high-profile human rights protection cases, authorities said today.

Chinese police published details on a series of so-called "rights protection" incidents, in which the detainees are suspected of illegally organising paid protests, hyping public sentiment and fabricating rumours on the Internet to sway court decisions, a Ministry of Public Security statement said.

The suspects consist of lawyers as the core organisers and social media celebrities and petitioners who are in charge of planning and implementation, it said.

It accused the group, led by Fengrui Law Firm, of disrupting public order and seeking profits by illegally hiring protesters and swaying court decisions in the name of "defending justice and public interests".

Since July 2012, the group has organised more than 40 controversial incidents and severely disrupted public order, it added.

In one high-profile case, a lawful police shooting at a railway station in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province was flaunted as a murder conspiracy, it said.

One instance came after police officer Li Lebin shot dead Xu Chunhe on May 2 at Qing'an County Railway Station. Xu attacked Li many times and was shot after multiple warnings.

Lawyers spread rumours that "Li opened fire at Xu under the order of an official because Xu was a petitioner. They also raised placards at Qing'an Railway Station and kept pressurising local officials, a state-run Xinhua news agency's report said.


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