Chinese authorities have said that rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang could not receive visitors in jail because of “renovation work,” according to his wife Li Wenzu.

On Friday, Li posted to Facebook a letter from Linyi Prison, which was addressed to Wang’s elder sister and arrived the day before. The letter said that Wang had been moved to the Shandong province prison on Monday.

wang quanzhang
Wang Quanzhang. Photo: RFA.

“It also came with a notice: the visiting room in Linyi Prison is undergoing renovation and upgrades. Visits will be halted in the short term, and specifics for visits will be announced separately,” she wrote.

Li added that she tried to call the prison on Friday morning via the two phone numbers provided on the letter.

“I said ‘hello’ after the line connected, and they hung up on me. After that I redialled for more than 10 times, within three seconds of connecting they hung up,” she wrote.

Li also told RTHK that Wang had been unable to meet with his lawyer since the sentencing, and she had no information on her husband’s situation. She said she felt “anxious and worried” about her husband’s health and safety, and demanded that the authorities contact her with updates about Wang.

The authorities must arrange a meeting between Wang and his family within one month of issuing the letter, Li said, otherwise it would be a violation of their rights.

王全璋被送到监狱 昨天晚上全璋姐姐收到了临沂监狱的通知书,2019年4月29日,王全璋已经被移送临沂监狱。同时附带一份告知书:临沂监狱会见室升级改造,近期暂停会见,具体会见时间另行通知。 …

Posted by 李文足 on Thursday, 2 May 2019

Wang was detained as part of the “709 crackdown” in August 2015, a wide-reaching clampdown on Chinese lawyers and activists. Wang was charged with inciting subversion of state power last February, but he was not heard from again until July last year.

He finally faced trial on Boxing Day last year – a secretive arrangement that his wife only learned about two days in advance. On the day of the trial, Chinese authorities placed Li under de facto house arrest to stop her from going to the Tianjin courthouse.

On January 28, Wang was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for subversion of state power. The trial took place behind closed doors, and not much was known about it except that Wang fired his state-approved lawyer within minutes.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.