Ge Yongxi, a lawyer hired by the family of the detained village leader at the centre of recent protests in Wukan, has said on Weibo that he is being pressured by authorities to withdraw from the corruption case.

In the Guangdong fishing village known for protests in 2011 that led to it being considered a model for grassroots democracy in China, Wukan Communist Party Secretary Lin Zuluan was arrested early Saturday morning under suspicion of taking bribes. On Tuesday, authorities broadcast a video of Lin “confessing” to receiving kickbacks from village projects. Since Lin’s arrest, local residents who believe in his innocence have taken to the streets calling for his release.

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Ge Yongxi and a joke he posted on WeChat about his fee being returned. Photo: Weibo.

Ge Yongxi posted on Weibo yesterday that Lin’s three sons had hired him as his defence lawyer. However, he was notified by his firm that the Justice Bureau has ordered the firm to return the money on Wednesday, said the post. This post, along with reposts by others, have been taken down.

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Reposts of Ge Yongxi’s Weibo post which have been taken down. Photo: Screenshot from Free Weibo.

Ge also posted a WeChat conversation with another lawyer defending Lin, who said that they were blocked by “related parties,” while on their way to submit documents required for a meeting with Lin and compelled to return home.

“Arrested in the middle of the night, a quick confession, a TV parade, comprehensive surveillance – this only proves one point: this country has no justice!” posted Ge Yongxi on Tuesday along with a video of Lin’s confession.

When contacted by HK01 yesterday, Ge Yongxi said there was no legal basis for the Bureau ordering him to withdraw from the case. He said Guangzhou’s Justice Bureau, Public Security Bureau and Internal Security Bureau have requested to meet with him, causing him to feel that his personal safety is under threat.

wukan protests
Tuesday’s march in Wukan.

China’s Criminal Procedures law states that “detained criminal suspects or defendants may also have their guardian or close relatives retain a defender on their behalf,” in Article 33.

Ge said he would talk to Lin’s sons to decide what to do next, said Apple Daily.

According to Apple Daily, villagers took to the streets again yesterday to call for Lin’s release, but wore hats and masks this time around to conceal their identities, fearing repercussions. Villagers told Apple Daily that some villagers did not attend the march yesterday due to pressure from the authorities.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.