2011 Crackdown Update: Ding Mao, Chen Wei, and Ran Yunfei

November 15, 2011

Prosecutors twice transferred the cases of democracy advocates Ding Mao and Chen Wei back to public security officials for supplementary investigation, both first detained in the widespread February 2011 crackdown in China and formally arrested shortly thereafter. In both cases, PSB officials have completed their supplementary investigations and requested indictments from prosecutors for the third and final time. Authorities have not responded to or have not granted family requests to release Ding and Chen on bail. Authorities also denied Ding and Chen access to their lawyers, in Ding's case for the first six months of his detention, and in Chen's case for nearly seven months. In another case involving a citizen detained in the crackdown, Chengdu authorities have released Ran Yunfei on bail pending trial and placed him under "residential surveillance."

Ding Mao and Chen Wei Cases Twice Transferred to Public Security Officials for Supplementary Investigation
Beginning in February 2011, Chinese officials initiated a widespread crackdown on rights defenders, lawyers, democracy activists, artists, and bloggers after protests in the Middle East and North Africa and amid online calls for "Jasmine" protest rallies in China. (For more information on censorship of events related to the "Arab Spring" and the crackdown in China, see CECC analyses from 3 May 11 and 22 March 11.) Citizens detained in February included the democracy advocate Ding Mao. Public security bureau (PSB) officials in Mianyang city, Sichuan Province, originally detained Ding on February 19 on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power," and formally arrested him on March 28 for the same charge (ChinaAid Association (CAA), 17 October 11). While news stories have not explicitly noted the reasons given by authorities for the charge, Ding reportedly forwarded, via microblog, messages related to "Jasmine" protest rallies in China, according to the October 17 CAA press release. Ding reportedly pointed out that he did not author information related to the rallies, merely that he forwarded other people's postings (Radio Free Asia (RFA), 6 September 11). Authorities are reportedly holding Ding in the Mianyang Municipal Detention Center, according to the same article.

The procuratorate in Mianyang reportedly twice transferred Ding's case back to the PSB for supplementary investigation, citing a lack of evidence to prosecute on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power," once in May 2011 and again in September (CAA, 17 October 11 and Amnesty International, 9 September 11). After PSB officials completed their second supplementary investigation, authorities notified Ding's wife on October 24 that they had submitted the case to the procuratorate for the third and final time (CAA, 8 November 11). (For more information on relevant pre-trial procedures, see the PRC Criminal Procedure Law, Articles 66-70.)

In September, procuratorate officials in Suining municipality, Sichuan province, transferred the case of another democracy advocate detained in February, Chen Wei, back to the public security bureau for supplementary investigation for the second time (China Free Press, via Boxun 3 October 11). By late October, PSB officials reportedly finished this second supplementary investigation and sent his case back to the procuratorate for the third time (RFA, 31 October 11). In Chen's case, public security officials in Suining detained him on February 20 and formally arrested him on March 28; Suining PSB officers noted four essays on democracy and human rights authored by Chen and posted overseas in an opinion recommending prosecution (Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 28 October 11 and RFA, 8 September 11). Authorities are reportedly holding Chen in the Suining Municipal Detention Center, according to the CHRD article.

Authorities Deny Access to Counsel for Months
Mianyang officials have not yet permitted Ding's wife to visit him in detention and did not allow Ding's lawyer to see him for nearly six months after his initial detention, despite several attempts (CHRD, reprinted in Blogspot, 14 July 11). Ding finally met with his lawyer for the first time on August 11, 2011, according to the October 17 CAA article. Article 33 of the PRC Lawyers Law (Chinese) (English) states that a lawyer entrusted to a case has a right to meet with a criminal suspect as of the first police interrogation or from the day when "compulsory measures" are first taken (such as a summons or detention). Article 96 of the Criminal Procedure Law also stipulates that lawyers may meet with suspects, though advance approval is necessary for cases involving state secrets. It is unclear if officials have classified the case as a state secret and news articles have not indicated that Ding's case otherwise involves state secrets. Authorities also prohibited Chen Wei's lawyer from visiting him until September 8, 2011 (CHRD, 12 September 11 and RFA, 8 September 11). News articles have not indicated that Chen's case involves state secrets.

Officials Unresponsive to Family Requests for "Bail Pending Trial"
In addition, Mianyang authorities have not responded to Ding's wife's request to modify the "compulsory measures" in his case which might, for example, lead to his release on bail pending trial or allow him to be placed under residential surveillance (CAA, 17 October 11 and RFA, 6 September 11). (For more information on such arrangements, see Chapter VI of the Criminal Procedure Law.) Authorities in Chen Wei's case did not respond to a September 9 request made by his wife for bail pending trial. After she resubmitted her request for bail on September 20, domestic security protection officials reportedly told her that people in political cases like Chen's are unable to obtain bail (China Free Press, via Boxun, 3 October 11).

Ran Yunfei Released on Bail Pending Trial, Under "Residential Surveillance"
On August 9, officials in Chengdu municipality, Sichuan province, released on bail intellectual and writer Ran Yunfei and placed him under "residential surveillance" to be in effect for six months. It is possible the procuratorate did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute Ran's case. Ran reportedly posted microblog entries regarding the so-called "Arab Spring" protests in the Middle East (New York Times, 10 August 11, and Associated Press via the Guardian, 10 August 11).

For more information on the crackdown in China beginning in February 2011 and related cases, see Section III—Institutions of Democratic Governance, Section II—Criminal Justice, and Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.