China releases, deports Swede detained over human rights work

BEIJING -- The Chinese government has released and deported a Swedish man it accused of training and funding unlicensed lawyers in the country, leading to an extraordinary taped confession broadcast on state television.

See Full Article

Swedish embassy spokesman Sebastian Magnusson confirmed Tuesday that Peter Dahlin had left China but was unable to provide further details.

Dahlin, co-founder of China Urgent Action Working Group, was featured in a 10-minute segment on state broadcaster CCTV last week in which he confessed to helping unlicensed lawyers take on cases against the government "in clear violation of the law."

He was arrested Jan. 3 on his way to Beijing's international airport, becoming the first foreigner to become entangled in a wide-ranging crackdown on the country's increasingly assertive legal rights movement.

The Swedish embassy issued a statement Friday in which it expressed "deep concern" over the cases against Dahlin and another detained Swedish national, Gui Minhai.

"Many unanswered questions remain in both cases and we continue to request clarification of what our citizens are being accused of and the formal status of their arrests," the statement said.

In its broadcast, CCTV described how Dahlin established an activist organization in Hong Kong with the help of employees from the human rights-focused Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, whose lawyers have been charged with subverting state power.

Dahlin's group called the confession "apparently forced" and rejected accusations that it manufactured or escalated conflicts inside China.

The group says it has been working since 2009 to help advance the rule of law by organizing training programs by lawyers for rights defenders focusing on land rights and administrative law. It also releases practical guides on the Chinese legal system.

Under president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, China's authoritarian government has aggressively pursued those attempting to use the legal system to assert basic rights, framing their advocacy as a challenge to state security. That campaign appears to have intensified over the past year.

Hundreds of lawyers have been rounded up and accused of stirring up hostility toward the government and manufacturing cases to enrich themselves.

Dahlin's group was not legally permitted to operate in mainland China. CCTV said it accepted foreign funding and paid lawyers and petitioners within China, who in turn provided negative information in order to tarnish the country's image.

In the CCTV program, Dahlin said the people his group supported had "gone on to do acts in clear violation of the law." He apologized for hurting "the Chinese government and Chinese people."

The official Xinhua News Agency cited witnesses as saying Dahlin had been planted by "Western anti-China forces" to gather negative information about China and fan opposition to the ruling party.

Gui, the other detained Swede, is a Hong Kong-based publisher of sensitive books banned on the mainland who disappeared in October from his apartment in Pattaya, a Thai beach resort.

He also reappeared last week on CCTV, saying he returned to China to turn himself in for an old crime. His friends insist Gui was forcibly taken away.

Chinese authorities have since 2013 frequently used televised confessions of dissidents and activists on state TV to sway public opinion against them ahead of their trials. At least 18 such confessions have been made by high-profile activists, bloggers and journalists.

The confessions have brought calls from journalists' and human rights organizations for sanctions against CCTV, which has been pushing hard to build its brand internationally to compete with CNN and the BBC.

"By knowingly peddling lies and statements (that) were presumably obtained under duress, CCTV and Xinhua (news agency) become mass propaganda weapons and cease de facto to be news media," Benjamin Ismail, the head of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders' Asia-Pacific desk said in a statement Thursday.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Canadians' view of U.S. deteriorated under Trump: global survey

    Canada News CTV News
    Canadians’ views of their southern neighbour and their confidence in the U.S. president are at a 15-year low, according to a major new survey of public attitudes in 37 countries. According to results of the Pew Research Center survey, just 43 per cent of Canadians now have a positive view of the United States. Source
  • NHL free agency: Big names, bargains and busts

    Canada News CBC News
    When the NHL's annual unrestricted free agent derby begins on July 1, who should your favourite team target? A number of high-profile names could be available, but many of them are unlikely to move. Source
  • Record-breaking Canadian sniper should be celebrated, Trudeau says

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The record-breaking kill shot by a Canadian sniper in Iraq should be “celebrated,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday, even as he insisted Canada’s mission in the battle-racked country remains a non-combat one. “What happened there is, first of all, something to be celebrated for the excellence of the Canadian Forces in their training, in the performance of their duties,” Trudeau told a news conference. Source
  • U.S. says Myanmar no longer among worst on human trafficking

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The United States asserted Tuesday that Myanmar is no longer one of the world's worst offenders on human trafficking, while removing both Myanmar and Iraq from a list of countries that use child soldiers. Source
  • Historic letter recalls time when Indigenous people were discouraged from 'excessive indulgence' in dancing

    Canada News CBC News
    When Sylvia McAdam posted a 95-year-old letter to Twitter, written by the former deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs, it went viral. That's because in the letter, Duncan Campbell Scott expressed alarm at the increasing rate of dancing on reserves and instructed department staff to use "tact" and "firmness" to "obtain control" and "dissuade the Indians from the excessive indulgence in the practice of dancing. Source
  • Mental-health expert meets with Cape Breton parents after suicides

    Canada News CTV News
    SYDNEY, N.S. -- A mental health expert dispatched to Cape Breton after three recent teen suicides says he's "gobsmacked" by the willingness of grieving parents to help other children and prevent similar deaths. Dr. Source
  • B.C. leading rise in private school enrolment across Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    More parents across Canada are choosing to send their children to private or independent schools, according to a new study from the Fraser Institute. The study found that every province recorded a decline in total K-12 enrolment between 2000–2001 to 2014–2015, except Alberta, which had an increase of 11.6 per cent. Source
  • Teen's sex attacker 'exhibits great potential': Judge

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    SYDNEY, N.S. — A young aboriginal man who sexually assaulted a 16-year-old friend “exhibits great potential” despite a difficult upbringing and should not face a lengthy jail term, a Nova Scotia judge says. Judge James Chipman sentenced Davis Joseph Prosper to four months in jail in a decision the judge said took Prosper’s aboriginal status into account. Source
  • Toronto cop killer granted permission to travel to visit daughter

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The man found not criminally responsible for killing a Toronto police officer while driving a snowplow has been granted permission to travel up to 150 kilometres from his home in Ontario. The Ontario Review Board, which decides if and how not criminally responsible patients should be detained, has granted the leave for Richard Kachkar, who was deemed not criminally responsible for killing Sgt. Source
  • Royal pay hike: Queen to get a raise in 2018

    World News CTV News
    The Queen is about to get a raise, of sorts. The Sovereign Grant, which pays for the household salaries and official travel expenses of the Royal Family, will increase by eight per cent next year. Source