A Chinese court sentenced one of China's most prominent rights advocates to four years in prison on Sunday after he campaigned for the rights of children from rural areas to be educated in cities and for officials to disclose their assets.
The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court found Xu Zhiyong guilty of "gathering a crowd to disturb public order," the court said on its official microblog. Xu was tried on Wednesday.
Xu's jailing will send a stark warning to activists that the Chinese Communist Party will crush any challenge to its rule, especially from those who seek to organize campaigns.
It also diminishes hopes for meaningful political change, even as China pledges to embark on economic reforms.
Xu's lawyer Zhang Qingfang said he will meet Xu within the next two days to get his opinion on whether to lodge an appeal.
"He said (in court) that the last remaining dignity of the Chinese legal system has been destroyed," Zhang told reporters.
"It's not that we can't bear this result, but that fundamentally, the guilty conviction is illegal, is unreasonable and unfair," he said.
There were chaotic scenes outside the court as police shoved and harassed foreign reporters.
Zhang was briefly taken away in a van by police after the hearing. He said police were still tailing him after he was released.