Wife says Chinese rights lawyer being denied legal counsel

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A prominent Chinese rights lawyer whose trial is drawing near on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and provoking trouble has been denied access to lawyers for nearly a month, his wife and one of his attorneys said Monday.

Meng Qun, wife of Pu Zhiqiang, raised the concern in an open letter addressed to the leadership of the Beijing detention center where her husband is being held, urging authorities to honor China's own rules to allow Pu access to lawyers.

One of Pu's attorneys, Shang Baojun, confirmed that Pu last met his lawyers on June 23 and verified the authenticity of Meng's letter.

Pu is widely believed to be politically persecuted amid Beijing's crackdown on civil society. The charges stem from his online posts that questioned China's ethnic policies in the wake of deadly violence involving ethnic minority Uighurs, and others that mocked several political figures.

He was taken away in May 2014 and was indicted on May 15 this year, after one year in detention.

Shang said he expects a Beijing court to hold Pu's trial soon, because by law Chinese courts have three months from the indictment to hold a trial and issue a verdict, but the authorities have not yet announced a date.

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