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China 31 July 2007

Lawyer for journalists and cyber-dissidents loses licence

Reporters Without Borders condemns the decision of the judicial authorities to refuse to renew the licence of lawyer Li Jianqiang, one of the very few prepared to defend journalists and dissidents.

The Judicial Affairs bureau in Shandong province, eastern China, rejected the application to renew his professional licence made in June 2007. It had been turned down but no reason was given, making it impossible for him to appeal against the decision.

"This sanction is unjustified and unjustifiable," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "It deprives many cyber-dissidents and independent journalists of a courageous defence against the unfairness of Chinese justice".

"We call on the Justice Minister, Wu Aiying, to intervene with the relevant authorities to ensure that Li Jianqiang has his licence renewed," the organisation said.

"This decision is very painful for me. I am now unemployed on the orders of the government and I have no means of appealing," Li told Reporters Without Borders.

Li Jianqiang has defended the writer Yang Tianshui, the poet Li Hong, artist Yan Zhengxue and independent writers Chi Jianwei, Guo Qizhen, Yang Tongyan, Li Yuanlong, Zhang Jianhong and Chen Shuqing. He is also legal advisor to the organisation Independent Chinese Pen.

According to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), Li was previously refused renewal of his licence in 2003. He was a professor, journalist and writer before becoming a lawyer in 1994.

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