China Confirms It Took Lawyer Jiang Tianyong Into Custody

A new video mocks the rights lawyer who vanished last month and taunts his supporters; his family has also recently been harassed by police
December 22, 2016 Updated: December 22, 2016    

Jiang Tianyong, a well-known Chinese human rights lawyer, has sought to hold the Chinese communist regime accountable for its own laws since 2005. For taking on the most sensitive cases—Falun Gong, Tibetans, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng—the authorities repaid Jiang with brutal beatings, multiple stints in detention, and, in 2009, disbarment.

But Jiang, a 45-year-old local of Luoshan County in central China, continued his activism—and last month once again disappeared into police custody.

Now, weeks after Jiang suddenly vanished on Nov. 21, Chinese police confirmed that they have “enforced criminal measures” against him for allegedly possessing and passing on classified state documents—a political charge frequently rolled out to incriminate dissidents and rights activists.

Jiang’s family in China are presently urging the Chinese security apparatus to reveal Jiang’s whereabouts, and they plan to sue the authorities for not properly notifying them of the arrest. Many members of the Jiang’s family have since been harassed by the police.

An Odd Statement

Jiang’s last communication with the outside world was a text message to his wife Jin Bianliang, informing her that he had boarded a train in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, and was due back in Beijing the next morning.

After Jiang failed to show up at the train station and stayed unresponsive for 48 hours, several overseas human rights groups and observers started reporting that Jiang was incommunicado and missing.

Seeing how Chinese security forces had continued to pick off human rights lawyers after a huge crackdown in July 2015, those concerned about Jiang feared that he had been intercepted by the police.

Those fears were realized on Dec. 16, when official Chinese newspapers reported that police had detained Jiang Tianyong in Changsha. The police claimed that Jiang had used fake identification to buy his train ticket, and had with him classified documents which he was trying to pass on to “foreign forces.” The police also claimed that Jiang had “confessed to the relevant illegal activities,” and they were taking the investigation “another step.”

The official Chinese reports never mention if Jiang is still in custody, or his whereabouts.

Qin Chenshou, Jiang Tianyong’s lawyer, told Epoch Times in an interview that the official statement on his client’s situation is “indeed rather strange.”

Under Chinese law, the family members of those arrested have to be formally notified. Yet the only official notification issued to date were the reports in Chinese press, Qin said.

While the Chinese reports claim that the Jiang family had been alerted to Jiang’s arrest, Qin said that what actually transpired “doesn’t count as effective notification”—Chinese officials had mailed the arrest notice to an empty address.

Qin suspects that the reports on Jiang Tianyong were really provided by the public security ministry, and published with light editing under the names of reporters.

After carrying out his own investigation, Qin found that Jiang was held for nine days at a police station in Changsha. Qin believes that Jiang is still in police custody, but doesn’t know where he is currently being held.

Jiang Tianyong’s family in China plan to file a legal complaint against the Chinese media for false reporting, according to Jiang Tianyong’s wife Jin Bianliang, who is currently in the United States.

‘State Secrets?’

Lawyer Qin Chenshou believes that the Chinese authorities accused Jiang Tianyong of “leaking state secrets” to incite nationalistic sentiment; a Dec. 20 propaganda video by the Communist Youth League titled, ‘A Notice to Foreign Forces: We’ve Captured Jiang Tianyong!‘ seems to underscore Qin’s point.

The charge leveled against Jiang is therefore “highly arbitrary,” and given that Chinese human rights lawyers never encounter secret state documents in their cases, the authorities “want to slander Jiang Tianyong,” Qin said.

The Chinese regime usually charges dissidents and political opponents with stealing and selling state secrets to secure prosecution.

“The Chinese Communist Party has never adhered to the rule of law,” said Li Jinjin, a Chinese human rights lawyer presently in the U.S. “The communist government simply uses censorship to suppress the people.”

Xu Wenli, formerly a senior research fellow at Brown University, and a longtime Chinese democracy activist, told Epoch Times in an earlier interview that “no one can tell what is a state secret.”

“Who decides what a ‘state secret’ is? There isn’t genuine rule of law in China, so no one will receive a fair trial,” Xu said.  

Family Hounded

The police have recently started applying pressure to Jiang’s family, Jiang’s wife told Epoch Times.

On Dec. 20, five policemen from a local police station sought out Jiang’s parents at their home in Xinyang City, Henan Province, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening.

At about 8:00 a.m. the following morning, uniformed and plainclothes police, together with the local village head, interrogated Jiang’s parents for two hours about his whereabouts. However, when the same question was asked of them, they kept silent or changed the topic.

The local authorities also wanted to know the details of a visit by four European diplomats—Germany, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland—to the home of Jiang’s parents on Dec. 19.

There has been much international concern over Jiang Tianyong’s disappearance. Over 1,500 people from around the world and 60 Chinese human rights lawyers have signed notices calling attention to his being vanished.

United Nations experts have also asked the Chinese regime to look into Jiang’s case in early December.

“We cannot rule out the possibility that Mr. Jiang may have been disappeared by the State agents because of his human rights work,” the UN experts wrote.

“Over the past years, we have received information that Mr. Jiang has been arrested, detained, and beaten by the police and state security officers on multiple occasions as a result of his human rights work.”

Jin Bianliang, Jiang’s wife, believes that her husband could have already been tortured, given that Chinese media reported that he had “confessed” to the charges leveled against him. Chinese police are known for extracting forced confessions through torture and abuse. 

With reporting from Gu Xiaohua and Luo Ya.