Ai Weiwei’s Attorney Arrested for “Subversion,” Sentenced to 7 Years


Photo by Gao Yuan, 2010.

Photo by Gao Yuan, 2010.

Artist Ai Weiwei’s attorney, Zhou Shifeng, pleaded guilty and was convicted of “subverting state power” with a sentence of seven years in prison. According to a court statement; “Zhou has long been influenced by anti-China forces and gradually established ideas to overturn the country’s political system.”

The court found Zhou has initiated confrontation and used his firm as a front for his “subversive agenda,” “discrediting judicial organs, attacking the judicial systems and promoting anti-government sentiment by interfering in and exaggerating sensitive cases.” Thus, allegedly, Zhou subverted state power.

The BBC Bejing’s John Sudworth offers his analysis, explaining that the case against Zhou seems to rely on the allegation that he encouraged protesters’ support of his defendants, which Sudwoth explains is a “perhaps understandable strategy in a system in which 99.9% of cases end in a conviction.” 

The BBC also reports arrests of approximately 300 lawyers and activists since last year for speaking out against the government.