Asia

China sentences activist lawyer to 12 years on fraud charges

  • FILE - In this July 14, 2011, file photo, lawyer Xia Lin, left, walks with Lu Qing, wife of outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, as they head to the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau. Xia, a Chinese lawyer who defended activists and others involved in politically sensitive cases, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, on fraud charges his lawyers said in what is believed to be the harshest penalty rendered in years against those few willing to take on the ruling Communist Party. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

    FILE - In this July 14, 2011, file photo, lawyer Xia Lin, left, walks with Lu Qing, wife of outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, as they head to the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau. Xia, a Chinese lawyer who defended activists and others involved in politically sensitive cases, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, on fraud charges his lawyers said in what is believed to be the harshest penalty rendered in years against those few willing to take on the ruling Communist Party. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 14, 2011, file photo, lawyer Xia Lin sits with Lu Qing, not shown, wife of outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, as she speaks to journalists in Beijing. Xia, a Chinese lawyer who defended activists and others involved in politically sensitive cases was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, on fraud charges his lawyers said in what is believed to be the harshest penalty rendered in years against those few willing to take on the ruling Communist Party. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

    FILE - In this July 14, 2011, file photo, lawyer Xia Lin sits with Lu Qing, not shown, wife of outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, as she speaks to journalists in Beijing. Xia, a Chinese lawyer who defended activists and others involved in politically sensitive cases was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, on fraud charges his lawyers said in what is believed to be the harshest penalty rendered in years against those few willing to take on the ruling Communist Party. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)  (The Associated Press)

A Chinese court has sentenced a lawyer who defended activists and others in sensitive cases to 12 years in prison on fraud charges.

Xia Lin was sentenced Thursday by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court, nearly two years after being detained.

His sentencing comes amid a string of cases and subversion trials demonstrating the ruling Communist Party's determination to silence independent human rights activists and government critics.

Advocacy group Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders said the charges against Xia related to money he had borrowed from friends, who asserted they did so freely and had not brought legal complaints against him.

It said investigators focused not on the fraud charges, but on Xia's association with government critics, including renowned artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei.