Spotlight: Selected Case Profiles of
Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚)
Chen Guangcheng, born in 1971 and blind since childhood, is a barefoot lawyer and activist. Chen is serving a four year and three month prison term for "intentional damage of property" and "organizing people to block traffic." Since his conviction, Chen has been abused in prison and is reportedly in poor health. Chen's family is also barred from visiting him in prison, and was not informed when he was transferred to another prison.
Chen has been a rural rights activist since the late 1990s in Shandong Province, when he fought against the "two-fields system," an illegal form of economic exploitation used by local officials. Chen also provided legal advice to disabled people about how to protect their rights, including suing the Beijing metro system. In his most famous case, Chen filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Linyi over an official policy of forced abortions and sterilizations.
In September 2005, a few days after he met in Beijing with lawyers and journalists about the cases he was working on in Linyi, Chen was abducted by Shandong authorities and returned to Linyi, where he was placed under house arrest. Despite acknowledgements in official media the same month that family planning abuses in Linyi had taken place and were being investigated, Chen was beaten by local officials when he attempted to meet with visiting lawyers in October 2005. Local authorities told the lawyers, who were also attacked by unidentified assailants, that Chen's case now involved state secrets. The involvement of state secrets can weigh considerably on a case, impeding the work of defense lawyers, and resulting in a number of procedural derogations.
Chen was taken into custody in March 2006. For three months his status and whereabouts were not disclosed and his lawyers had no access to him. In June, Chen was charged with "intentional damage of property" and "organizing people to block traffic," and was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment in August 2006. His lawyers were unable to appear at his trial. Chen lodged an appeal of the conviction. On October 31, 2006, the court overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial by the county court in Yinan in Shandong Province. On November 27, 2006, Chen was again found guilty. Chen's appeal was rejected on January 9, 2007.
During his trial, Chen's legal team came under serious harassment: they have been beaten by unknown assailants, detained by the police or denied access to the court for the involvement in Chen's case. In addition to Li Jinsong (李劲松) and Xu Zhiyong (许志永), profiled below, Li Subin (李苏宾) was stopped from visiting from Chen's wife and beaten in a number of occasions in June 2006. In the same month, Li Kechang (李克昌), Cheng Hai (程海), and Meng Xianming (孟宪明) were followed and assaulted by ten unknown assailants in Linyi. Li Fangping (李方平), Zhang Lihui (张立辉), and Xu Zhiyong (许志永) were surrounded by the Linyi police the night before Chen's trial of first instance and were detained on charges of theft. Both Zhang and Li were released after two hours, but later barred from the trial. Two other rights defense (weiquan) lawyers, Yang Zaixin (杨在新) and Zhang Jiankang (张鉴康), were also been harassed and forcibly returned home. Lawyer Li Fangping (李方平) was assaulted, together with Li Jinsong (李劲松), by eight men on his way to Linyi to deal with Chen's case on December 27, 2006. Reports continue to surface of harassment of Chen's lawyers.
Gao Zhisheng (高智晟)
Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer known for his work defending people persecuted for upholding their religious beliefs, was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" and was sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment (with a 5-year suspension) and a 1-year deprivation of political rights on December 22, 2006.
The suspension of Gao's verdict means that he was released from detention on the day after his verdict. If he does not run afoul of the law during those five years, he will not have to serve his sentence. On September 12, 2007, Gao had issued an open letter to the US Congress, condemning the Chinese government for using the Olympic Games as a means of worsening human rights issues in China. On September 22, 2007, Gao was taken from his home by police, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
The attorneys that Gao's family had appointed for him, Mo Shaoping (莫少平) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎), had not been informed about Gao's closed-door trial beforehand and were therefore unable to defend him. Gao was instead represented by two court-appointed lawyers; authorities later stated that he had refused other legal representation, and at trial he pleaded guilty.
Gao had come under official harassment before his detention on August 15, 2006. In late 2005, his license to practice was revoked. Gao was then placed under surveillance in March 2006 and in late July 2006 he was beaten by police for complaining about living under constant police surveillance. On August 18, 2006, police announced that Gao has been detained "for suspected involvement in criminal activities." In response, dozens of dissidents signed a petition for his release, calling his detention "a serious escalation in repression." Several of those who signed the petition were put under house arrest, and his wife and two children have also been confined to their home. While serving his suspended sentence, Gao's family have at times been placed under round-the-clock surveillance and cut off from contacts with others.
Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄) (aka Yang Maodong (杨茂东))
Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong), a legal advisor, was detained on September 14, 2006, and formally arrested on September 30, 2006, on suspicion of "illegal business activity." He was convicted on November 14, 2007, and sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined 40,000 yuan. Guo has chosen not to appeal, in part, he has stated, because he questions the fairness of the Chinese legal system.
Guo's detention and arrest was in connection with his work on Shenyang Political Earthquake 《沈阳政坛地震》, a book concerning a political scandal in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. Another person involved in the book, Jiang Wei (江伟), was also detained and charged. In December 2006, Guo was informed that he could seek legal and was represented by lawyer Hu Xiao (胡啸) from the Mo Shaoping Law Firm in Beijing. Prior to his trial and conviction on November 14, 2007, Guo's case was delayed and transferred numerous times, raising concerns about procedural irregularities and fairness.
During his detention, Guo has also been repeatedly abused. Guo told his lawyer that he has been subjected to physical abuse, including by being shackled to his bed for more than 40 hours and made to undergo round-the-clock interrogation. He has reportedly gone on hunger strike on more than one occasion, and has currently been on hunger strike for more than 55 days in protest against his treatment. Guo is not allowed to read newspapers and have contact with other inmates in Meizhou Prison, Guangdong Province. He has been denied family visitation since early January 2008 for allegedly violating prison rules.
Guo has worked on a number of controversial rights defense cases. He is best known for providing advice in late 2005 to Taishi villagers in Guangdong Province who attempted to remove their village chief. Prior to his detention in September 2006, he had been providing legal advice on the case of detained Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng (detained in August 2006, see profile above).
Guo had also been detained and harassed prior to this current detention. In 2005, Guo was detained for approximately three months during the Taishi case. On August 2, 2006, after four days of "disappearance" following a beating at the hands of the police, Guo was detained after starting a protest outside the Xinhuamen Gate to the central government residential compound in Beijing. He handed in a petition, and began a hunger strike. He was detained by local police just one hour after his arrival and taken to a local police station. On August 9, 2006, Guo was beaten up by train police on his way to Beijing and then taken to Shaoguan, Guangdong Province, where he was detained overnight. On August 10, 2006, he was forcibly sent back to his home in Guangzhou. Police accused Guo of holding a fake train ticket, which he denies; no other reason was given for the beating or detention.
Since his detention, Guo's wife, Zhang Qing (张青), has repeatedly spoken out about the abuse of her husband. She has written letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, U.S. President George Bush, and Chinese President Hu Jintao, appealing for help in Guo's release and an end to his abuse in prison. Life has been made difficult for Guo's wife and their children, who are often watched at home; Guo's younger child has also not been allowed to enroll in school.
Li Heping (李和平)
Li Heping, a Beijing-based rights-defense lawyer, was kidnapped, hooded, beaten, and tortured with electric rods by a group of unidentified men on September 29, 2007, the weekend before National Day celebrations in China.
Li was held in a basement outside Beijing until early September 30, when he was dumped in the woods outside the city. As he was beaten, Li was told to leave Beijing with his family or face the consequences. When he returned home, Li discovered that his license to practice law and other personal belongings were missing. His computer had also been completely erased.
Li and his family remain in Beijing.
Li Jinsong (李劲松)
Li Jinsong stepped down as Chen Guangcheng's chief counsel after he was attacked on June 27, 2006, by a group of 20 men who subsequently overturned his car while he was still inside. Throughout preparations for the case, Li was denied access to his client, could not collect evidence, and was repeatedly harassed.
Li was recently appointed as one of the defense attorneys for Hu Jia (胡佳), a long-time HIV/AIDS who was detained on December 27, 2007, and formally arrested on January 30, 2008, on charges of inciting subversion of state power. On January 10, 2008, Li was placed under house arrest for several hours in a Beijing hotel, after telling foreign journalists that he had been barred from meeting with Hu's wife, Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕).
Li Baiguang (李柏光)
Li Baiguang, former university professor, legal activist, and "house church" Protestant, was arrested and detained on December 14, 2004, after bringing legal action against the government on behalf of over 100,000 peasants seeking damages from forced land evictions. He has been detained and physically attacked many times since his release, once in January 2006 when police and security officers raided a prayer meeting he was attending.
Ma Guangjun (麻广军)
Ma Guangjun represented a rape suspect in 2003 and produced seven witnesses at the trial who testified on behalf of the defense. During the trial recess, local police officers interrogated all seven witnesses, during which they recanted their testimony and accused Ma of enticing them to falsely their testimony. The suspect was found guilty of rape and Ma was detained in accordance with Article 306 of the Criminal Law.
At a retrial for the defendant accused of rape, the seven witnesses changed their testimony again, and stated the suspect could not have committed the rape. The witnesses were again interrogated by local police, and once again recanted their testimony. Subsequently, the defendant was once more found guilty and Ma was convicted of violating Article 306 for "fabricating evidence."
Ma served 210 days of his sentence before the Inner Mongolia Lawyers Association launched an investigation and concluded that the police had violated the law in their handling of this case, and that there were severe problems with the government's evidence against Ma's client. Consequently, Ma was declared innocent and released in March 2004.
Teng Biao (滕彪)
Teng Biao, law lecturer at a Beijing university and part-time lawyer, has participated in many public interests cases, including that of Sun Zhigang (孙志刚), which eventually led to the abolition of the "Custody and Repatriation" system in China.
Teng has been harassed on a number of occasions for his role as a public interest lawyer; he has been beaten, prevented from leaving his home, and his email account has been hacked. Teng continued to work on high-profile public interest cases and speak out on the rights of lawyers in China despite these attacks. On the night of March 6, 2008, however, Teng was abducted. There is no current information on Teng's whereabouts.
Xu Zhiyong (许志永)
Xu Zhiyong, the lawyer who replaced Li Jinsong in the defense of Chen Guangcheng, was beaten on October 4, 2005, when attempting to visit Chen to prepare his defense. On August 18, 2006, the day before Chen's trial began, Xu was beaten by five unidentified men and then taken into police custody on charges of theft, only to be released 22 hours later, after Chen's trial had already concluded.
Zheng Enchong (郑恩宠)
Zheng Enchong, a lawyer from Shanghai, served a three-year jail sentence for "leaking state secrets abroad" after he contacted an overseas human rights group about property disputes.
Zheng had been advising Shanghai residents on eviction disputes with the government. Released in June 2006, Zheng has since been under virtual house arrest, and is constantly harassed and monitored by the police. His political rights were also suspended for one year after his release in accordance with his conviction, and his license to practice law had previously been revoked in 2001. In an interview with Radio Free Asia on February 20, 2007, Zheng revealed that he had been told that if he promises not to leave the country after his political rights suspension expires in June 2007, the central authority would expedite the process of reviewing his conviction on charges of "leaking state secrets abroad."
Zheng and his family continue to be harassed into 2008. Zheng gave an interview to the Epoch Times on February 12, 2008, in which he talked about the corruption case of Shanghai tycoon Zhou Zhengyi (周正毅). Zheng was questioned about this interview in late February during several days of harassment by the authorities. On February 16 and 17, Zheng was beaten by the police officers who were following him and his wife. He was also summoned to the police station on February 17 and 20, and kept in detention for 12 hours on both occasions. On February 20, Zheng was also beaten by an unidentified individual in the detention center.
Zheng's family is concerned that this pattern of harassment mirrors official action taken prior to his formal arrest in 2003.
 The state secrets legal system is complex and opaque, sweeping a vast universe of information into its net. All Chinese citizens are obligated to protect state secrets, and individuals can be criminally charged for stealing, possessing, or leaking state secrets. Because almost anything can be classified as a state secret, or retroactively classified, individuals have been charged for "leaking" a broad range of information, including information that was published in newspapers. For more information on the State Secrets system, see, Human Rights in China, State Secrets: China's Legal Labyrinth, June 12, 2007, http://hrichina.org/public/contents/41421.
 Information came from the following sources: Ding Xiao [丁小], "Chen Guangcheng's Lawyers Detained and Another Three Beaten Up" [公安拘留陈光诚的律师 律师团三人被殴], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], June 22, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2006/06/22/chen/; "Public Security Bureau Refused to Comment on the Abuse of Rights Defenders" [公安部拒绝响应维权者被殴], Ming Pao, July 12, 2006; "Scuffles at China Activist Trial," BBC News, July 20, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5197340.stm; Joseph Kahn, "Advocate for China's Weak Runs Afoul of the Powerful," The New York Times, July 20, 2006; Alexa Olesen, "Chinese Activist's Lawyers Boycott Trial," Associated Press, August 18, 2006; Chris Buckley, "China Detains Rights Advocates Before Activist Trial," Reuters, August 18, 2006; "Blind Chinese Activist to Go on Trial Amid Tight Security," Agence France-Presse, August 18, 2006; Ding Xiao [丁小], "Court Hearing for Blind Activist Chen Guangcheng Ended, but Crackdown on Rights Activists Continues" [陈光诚庭审结束 当局打压维权人士未停], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], August 21, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2006/08/21/chenguangcheng/; Josephine Ma, "Four Years in Jail for Blind Activist," South China Morning Post, August 25, 2006; "China Orders Surprise Retrial for Blind Activist," Reuters, November 1, 2006; "Conviction Upheld for Blind Rights Defender Chen Guangcheng" [盲人维权者陈光诚维持原判], Ming Pao [明报], December 1, 2006; "Chen Guangcheng's Witness Placed Under Criminal Detention" [陈光诚案证人陈光和被当局刑拘], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], December 4, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2006/12/04/chen/; Li Jinsong [李劲松], "Supplementary Comments on Chen Guangcheng's Appeal" [刑事上诉补充意见], Chinese Human Rights Defenders, December 8, 2006, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class18/Class51/200701/20070105122509_3026.html; "Lawyers for Jailed Activist Beaten Up," South China Morning Post, December 28, 2006; Liyin City Intermediate People's Court, Shangdong Province [山东省临沂市中级人民法院], "Criminal Ruling (for Chen Guangcheng)" [刑事裁定书(陈光诚)], Liyin Criminal Docket No. 311, 2006 [（2006）临刑--终字第311号], available at: http://www.bowenpress.com/cn/2007/china/62_1.shtml; Ding Xiao [丁小], "Family Not Informed of Chen Guangcheng's Prison Transfer" [陈光诚被转监家人未获通知], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 25, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/02/25/chenguanchengzhuaijian/.
 Though no more news is known about Gao's whereabouts, activist Hu Jia reportedly received a phone call from Gao Zhisheng on October 28, 2007, when Gao asked Hu not to try and reach Gao's family. See "Over one month since lawyer Gao Zhisheng's kidnapping, Hu Jia receives word from him," [高智晟律师被绑架月余首次致电胡佳], Chinese Rights Defenders Net, October 30, 2007, http://crd-net.org/Article/Class18/Class57/200710/20071030100352_6159.html.
 Information came from the following sources: Jehangir Pocha, "Dozens of Dissidents Missing in China," The Boston Globe, March 5, 2006; "Police Beat China Dissident Lawyer After Complaint," The China Post, August 1, 2006; "China Dissidents Press for Lawyer's Release," Reuters via The New York Times, August 20, 2006; Yan Ming [燕明], "Family of Detained Rights Lawyers Gao Zhisheng Under House Arrest, While Rights Activists Call for His Release" [高智晟妻儿被软禁 海外呼吁释放高], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], August 21, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2006/08/21/gaozhisheng/; "China Indicts Gao Zhisheng in Secret, Turns Away His Legal Team," Radio Free Asia, December 11, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/english/china/2006/12/11/china_gaozhisheng/; "China Gives Rights Lawyer Suspended Sentence," Reuters via Yahoo! News, December 22, 2006; Ding Xiao [丁小], "Gao Zhisheng "Jailed at Home," Reveals Inside Story in Phone Call to Hu Jia" [高智晟家中坐牢 致电外界打开黑箱内幕], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 6, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/04/06/gao/; "Gao Zhisheng Strongly Condemns Authorities Placing His Family Under House Arrest" [高智晟强烈谴责中国当局软禁全家], BBC Chinese [BBC 中文网], April 8, 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/chinese/simp/hi/newsid_6530000/newsid_6537700/6537721.stm; Ding Xiao [丁小], "Gao Zhisheng Beaten Again by Police on Saturday After Receiving International Rights Award" [高智晟再遭殴打 海外获奖后当局示警？], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], June 4, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/06/04/gaozhisheng/.
 Human Rights in China, "Guo Feixiong's Wife Issues Statement on the Decision Not to Appeal," November 27, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/45706.
 Information came from the following sources: Kristine Kwok, "Activist Stopped from Returning to Beijing," South China Morning Post, March 16, 2006; "Chinese Lawyer Detained Outside Beijing Government Compound," Radio Free Asia, August 2, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/2006/02/08/china_guofeixiong/; Ding Xiao [丁小], "Rights Defender Guo Feixiong Beaten on Train to Beijing" [郭飞雄赴京火车上被警察殴打], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], August 10, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2006/08/10/fuofeixiong/; "China Detains Top Guangdong Rights Lawyer," Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], September 15, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/2006/09/15/china_guofeixiong/; Human Rights in China, "Case Moves Ahead Against Rights Defender Guo Feixiong," January 8, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/32102; Ding Xiao [丁小], "Guo Feixiong Tortured During Investigation" [郭飞雄预审期间受虐 细节显示经济案是欲加之罪], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], January 11, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/01/11/guo_feixiong/; Human Rights in China, "Case Update: Guo Feixiong Tortured, Sister and Brother Harassed," January 16, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/32161; Human Rights in China, "Guo Feixiong's Case Delayed, Transferred," January 22, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/32199; Ji Lisi [姬励思] "Guangzhou Police Send Guo Feixiong to Detention Center in Liaoning" [广州公安将郭飞雄移送至辽宁省看守所关押], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], January 23, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2007/01/23/china_rights_guofeixiong/; Yan Ming [燕明], "Guangzhou Public Security Bureau Refuses Guo Feixiong's Third Bail Application" [广州第三次拒绝郭飞雄取保候审], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], January 31, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/01/31/guo/; Zhang Min [张敏], "Guo Feixiong's Case Sent to Guangzhou Procuratorate Again" [郭飞雄案重新移送检察院 律师强调同案不应分案审], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 27, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/02/27/guofeixiong/; "Guo Feixiong's Conditions Worsen in Jail; Wife Zhang Qing Calls for Support" [郭飞雄狱中处境险恶，张青再次呼吁声援], January 14, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/xinwen/2008/01/14/xinwen/; Ji Lisi [姬励思], "Guo Feixiong Punished for Violating Prison Regulations" [狱方指郭飞雄违反监规实施严管三个月], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], January 23, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2008/01/23/china_rights_guofeixiong/.
 Human Right in China, "Rule of Law Threatened by Extra-Legal Attacks Against Lawyer," October 01, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/45122.
 Information came from the following sources: Robert Marquand, "Chinese Rule-of-law Activist Becomes a Case in Point," Christian Science Monitor, July 28, 2006; "Chronology of Chen Guangcheng's Case," Human Rights Watch, August 11, 2006, http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/07/18/china13766.htm; Jim Yardley, "China Detains Lawyers for Peasants' Advocate," The New York Times, August 17, 2006; "Lawyers for Jailed Activist Beaten Up," op. cit.
 Reporters Without Borders, "Hu Jia's Lawyer Put Under House Arrest, Foreign Journalists Prevented from Visiting Wife and Daughter," January 11, 2008, http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25013.
 Information came from the following sources: "The Situation of Li Baiguang, Rights Defender who Helped Farmers, was Detained by Police and Imprisoned" [被中国当局扣押的维权人士李柏光获释], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], March 08, 2005, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2005/03/08/china_humanrights_Li_boguang/?simple=1; Yu Meisun [俞梅荪], "Rights Defender Li Baiguang Released After Being Held in Custody by Chinese Officials" [李柏光帮助农民维权而被警方拘禁及狱中近况]," Yibao [议报] (2005): 182, http://www.chinaeweekly.com/big5/viewarticle_big5.aspx?vid=759.
 Jian, Fa "Independence called for Lawyers," Beijing Review, Vol. 47, No. 42, October 21, 2004, available at: http://www.bjreview.com.cn/200442/Cover-200442(B).htm; "Chinese Article Claims That Research on the Difficulties Faced By Criminal Defense Lawyers Restricted After Revealing 'Shocking' Initial Results," Congressional - Executive Commission on China, January 13, 2005, available at http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=5472.
 Hua Zimo [毕子默], "Teng Biao's Email Account Hacked" [滕彪电子邮箱被盗用], Radio Free Asia Asia [自由亚洲电台], January 21, 2008, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2008/01/21/China_Lawyer/.
 Human Right in China, "Violent Assaults on Rights Defense Lawyers Must Stop," March 7, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/47550.
Information came from the following sources: Josephine Ma, "Trial of Blind Birth-control Activist Postponed," South China Morning Post, July 20, 2006; Jonathan Watts, "China's Rule of Law: Peasant Turned Legal Advocate is Punished for Revealing Dark Side of One-child Policy," The Guardian, February 3, 2006;"Chronology of Chen Guangcheng's Case," op.cit.; Alexa Olesen, "Chinese Activist's Lawyers Boycott Trial," Associated Press, August 18, 2006; Josephine Ma, "Police Hold Activist's Lawyer Until End of Trial," South China Morning Post, August 19, 2006.
Information came from the following sources: Savadove, op. cit.; Human Rights In China, "Zheng Enchong Detained Again," July 12, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/29514; Human Rights in China, "Zheng Enchong Released Amidst Crackdown on Petitioners," June 5, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/29175; Xin Yu [心语], "Zheng Enchong: Beijing Set Conditions for Expediting the Process of Reviewing My Case" [郑恩宠：北京为其加速平反提出条件], Radio Free Asia, February 20, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/02/20/zheng/.
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