[JURIST] The Beijing Supreme People's Court on Friday upheld the four-year prison sentence of legal activist Xu Zhiyong [JURIST news archive] for "gathering a crowd to disturb public order." Xu, a legal scholar, is the founder of the New Citizens' Movement [WSJ backgrounder], a grass-roots organization which seeks to draw attention to matters of public discontent, including equal access to education and disclosure of Chinese officials' personal assets to combat corruption. Though Xu insisted that all activism was done within the limits of the law, the court held that there was enough clear and sufficient evidence to find the January sentence [JURIST report] was administered properly. Many activist organizations, including Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], have condemned the prosecutions. Amnesty International [advocacy website] has stated [press release] that the rejection of Xu's appeal makes a "mockery of justice."
The detainment of anti-corruption activists has been a recurrent human rights issue in China. Xu was formally indicted in December, after Beijing prosecutors received a letter from Chinese police officials urging [JURIST reports] the government to bring charges against Xu in early December. Last August Chinese writer, lawyer and human rights advocate Yang Maodong, commonly known by his pen-name Guo Feixiong [HRIC profile], became the second leader, following Xu, of the New Citizens movement to be arrested [JURIST report] on suspicion of disrupting the peace.