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Human Rights Lawyer Banned from Entering Linfen Court, Barred from Travel

by Staff
July 19, 2010
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SHANXI, China, ( -- Chinese human rights attorney Zhang Kai (Kevin) was barred from entering a Linfen Court on Monday, July 12, following a recent government action restricting his ability to travel.

On Monday morning, Zhang Kai traveled to Linfen, Shanxi, to file an administrative lawsuit for the on behalf of the sentenced pastors in the Linfen Church case. (See more details on the Linfen Case). This was his fourth attempt to ask the court to allow the administrative suit to be filed, since the first three attempts were rejected by the court. As he approached the doors to the courtroom, the first guard allowed him to enter the intermediate court. After glancing at the name on his attorney's certificate (ID), the police officer guarding the inner room abruptly changed his tone, and asked, "Are you Zhang Kai the attorney?"

When Zhang Kai gave an affirmative answer, the police officer immediately blocked him from entering. "You are not allowed to go in."

Zhang Kai asked why they were treating him differently than other people entering the courthouse, and the police officer informed him that they had received an "order from their superiors, " saying that the attorney Zhang Kai was forbidden to enter the courtroom. The officer vaguely referred to the reason as being a matter of national security.

This latest restriction on lawyer Zhang Kai's movement and rights as an attorney follows on the heels of a recent event at a Beijing airport on July 4, where Zhang Kai was barred by customs officials from traveling to the U.S. for a legal training conference.

On July 4, Zhang Kai arrived at the airport with legal colleagues, Dai Jinbo (Floyd) and Yang Peng (Daniel), as the prepared to leave for a week-long legal training seminar in Chicago, IL. As the men filed through customs and prepared to board the plane, officials stopped Zhang Kai at the gate.

Yang Peng recounted the unusual event. "At the airport when he (Zhang Kai) was blocked, there was no official explanation. Zhang Kai said it was an "order from higher officials." He said they told him if he were to leave the country, he would harm national security."

Yang Peng expressed concern and confusion over the explanation. "We were invited to come to the U.S. for professional law training. It is difficult for me to see how it relates to national security."

Fellow lawyer Dai Jinbo also expressed his regrets. "I am sorry that Zhang Kai was not able to join us. I feel bad that he missed out on such a great opportunity to learn."

Both Mr. Yang and Mr. Dai successfully completed legal training last week, and are grateful for the opportunity to learn more about rule of law from experts in the field.

"According to legal experts," says ChinaAid President Bob Fu, "This may be the first time the authorities have forbidden a licensed, practicing lawyer to enter into a court yard, without legal justification or previous official restrictions on his license. Zhang Kai is one of the lawyers representing the Linfen case. It directly contradicts the rights of attorneys and rule of law."

ChinaAid urges the Chinese authorities to justify the restrictions against lawyer Zhang Kai according to the law. We encourage the international community to pray for Mr. Zhang's restored freedom of movement and ability to practice law according to the Chinese Constitution.

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