260 Chinese lawyers protest detention of attorney who invoked constitutional rights in court

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At least 260 Chinese lawyers have protested after a fellow attorney was detained by police for invoking the constitutional rights of free speech and religion in court.

The lawyers signed an open letter condemning the police action in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Zhang Lei, who drafted the letter, said Friday that lawyer Zhang Keke was detained for six hours over his speech in court defending a member of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong. The two Zhangs are not related.

A local police officer involved in the case, Jin Zhenyu, declined to be interviewed by phone.

Zhang Lei said police violated legal protections for lawyers in court, and called on the government to honor its pledge to implement the rule of law.