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Chinese Dissident Wang Bingzhang Goes on Trial in Shenzhen - 2003-01-22

A prominent democracy activist goes on trial in China and a jailed Tibetan monk says he's being persecuted for fighting for minority and religious freedoms.

The Free China Movement, a human rights group in Washington, says the trial of democracy activist Wang Bingzhang started and seemed to end on Wednesday without a verdict. The trial was held in Shenzhen, a booming city near the Hong Kong border.

Mr. Wang, a permanent resident of the United States, was charged in December with selling state secrets to Taiwan and posting Internet articles advocating violence and terrorism. The Free China Movement says he is not guilty.

Mr. Wang helped establish the banned China Democracy Party in 1998.

Missing since June, Mr. Wang only surfaced when he was charged in Shenzhen in December. He had last been seen in Vietnam, where he was meeting with labor activists. It is not clear how he ended up in China.

Meanwhile, a Tibetan monk given a suspended death sentence for a series of bomb blasts in China's Sichuan province last year, proclaims his innocence in a taped message smuggled out of prison.

In a broadcast on Radio Free Asia, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche says he is wrongly accused because of his devotion to the interests of Tibetans.

Bruce Van Voorhis, a spokesman for the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong, says he doubts that the monk received a fair hearing. "Most of the trials involving Tibetans are what we would call political trials," he said, "and it is highly unlikely that it would be considered a fair trial. They weren't represented. In early January their case was supposed to be appealed again and this was called off last minute."

A coalition of Tibetan rights groups said Tuesday that an additional 10 Tibetan men were arrested in connection with the bomb attacks. The groups add they are troubled about allegations of torture in custody.

China invaded Tibet in the 1950s and has since struggled to quell religious and political dissidence in the region.