Authorities Hunt for Human Rights Lawyer After He Recants Forced Statements
ChinaAid.org reported the mother of renowned human rights lawyer Zhang Kai published a distressed update late August via social media. The update said in essence that police surrounded her home in search of her son. This comes as Zhang publicly recanted what he said were forced statements he made during a recent interview.
China Aid.org reports, "In an attempt to maintain the pretense that the Chinese government justly punishes human rights activists, officials forced Zhang to attend the Aug. 4 trial of lawyer Zhou Shifeng, after which he was pressured into condoning the government’s treatment of human rights lawyers in an interview. On Aug. 30, he posted a message on WeChat, a popular social media service, refuting his statements, requesting the forgiveness of the lawyers’ family members and explaining that he had been under great duress after experiencing a six-month detention that was 'all black and no daylight.'"
Zhang was originally apprehended on Aug. 25, 2015, for legally representing about 100 churches affected by an ongoing demolition campaign in Zhejiang province. Charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” and “stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to entities outside of China,” he was held incommunicado in an unofficial prison known as a “black jail.”
Six months later, he reappeared on state television on Feb. 25, 2016, where, during an interview, he was forced to confess to his alleged crimes. Days later, he received a criminal detention sentence, which was cut short when he was released on bail on March 23. Since then, he has been living with his family in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.
Zhang Kai confirmed that he published the message during a phone call with a China Aid reporter, but stated it was “inconvenient” for him to receive interviews at this time.
A day later, his mother wrote on social media that police came to her house and attempted to take Zhang into custody once again.
Translations of the two social media messages, as well as the interview between China Aid’s reporter and Zhang, are forthcoming.