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Man jailed for Tiananmen protest plan: lawyer

BEIJING -- A Chinese court on Monday jailed for 18 months a man who applied to hold a protest on the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings, his lawyer said.

Gu Yimin was found guilty of “inciting state subversion” for posting pictures of the 1989 crackdown online and applying for permission to stage a protest on its anniversary last year, his lawyer Liu Weiguo said.

“This judgement violates the constitution,” Liu said, adding that Gu would appeal the verdict, handed down by a court in Changshu in the eastern province of Jiangsu. “We maintain that Gu Yimin was exercising his right to freedom of speech.”

Liu added that men he believed to be state security officers had assaulted him and another lawyer outside the courthouse.

Hundreds of protesters — by some estimates, thousands — were killed in 1989 when the Chinese army cracked down on their pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state.

The ruling Communist party remains intolerant of dissent and tightly censors public discussion of the crackdown.

Gu applied to local authorities to hold a small-scale protest on June 4 last year, the 24th anniversary of the event, his wife Xu Yan previously told AFP.

He stood trial in September and denied the charges, his lawyer said at the time, adding that Gu, 36, had called off his protest when authorities warned him not to go ahead.

“There is nothing illegal about posting a photograph of a genuine incident,” Liu said. “If his activities caused damage to the (Communist) party, that's not the same as damaging the state.”

Charges of incitement to state subversion have previously been used to imprison political dissidents.

Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail for the crime in 2009 after circulating a petition calling for political reforms including democratic elections.

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