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Hangzhou Environmentalist Tan Kai’s Trial Granted Continuance

June 22, 2006

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that the trial of environmental activist Tan Kai has been granted a continuance.

Tan Kai, a leader of the environmental group "Green Watch," went to trial at Hangzhou's Xihu District Court on May 15 on charges of illegally obtaining state secrets. The proceedings were closed to the public, and no verdict was issued at the time. Sources told HRIC that on June 20, the court granted the procuratorate’s request for postponement of trial. A court official who reportedly telephoned Tan's lawyer, Li Heping, to inform him of the continuance said the defense would be notified later about when the trial would be resumed. However, according to Chinese law prosecutors are allowed only a month for supplementary investigation before trial must be resumed.

The Hangzhou Public Security Bureau issued summonses to Tan and five other members of an unregistered environmental civil society group “Green Watch” lüse guancha on October 19, 2005 after the group opened a bank account under Tan’s name. All but Tan were permitted to leave that day after questioning. Tan remained in detention and was indicted on April 29, 2006.

According to HRIC’s sources, the state secrets charge against Tan stems from his employment as a computer repair technician, during which he routinely made backup copies of clients’ computer files. Last year Tan repaired the office computer of an employee of the Zhejiang provincial Party committee, and as usual made a backup copy of the computer’s files, which the authorities claim constitutes “illegally obtaining state secrets.”

HRIC is concerned that the prosecution of Tan Kai is part of a pattern of politicized uses of state secrets prosecutions and closed trials to target and punish individuals for engaging in legitimate activities deemed sensitive by Chinese authorities.