While the coronavirus news first broke out in China, the country tried its best to suppress the news from reaching the world. In the early days of saga, the country tried suppressing the news from reaching international waters. Two Chinese activists, Chen Mei and Cai Wei, however, shared censored material that showed the early days of coronavirus in China.
The two activists were taken into custody by Chinese law enforcement authorities and are now facing criminal charges. They were initially arrested in April for publishing articles on GitHub that were originally banned in China.
According to what the family members of one of the activists Chen Mei say, it was revealed that the Chinese authorities have told the family about formally arresting and holding Mei in the Chaoyang District Detention Center.
The Chinese police have also told the family members that both Mei and Wei opted for legal aid and were appointed with two lawyers for each. That being said, Mei's family members do not seem to believe that he received legal aid.
“It's a clear attempt to keep the family's hired lawyers from intervening. We do not accept the officially appointed lawyers and we believe that this was a last resort for Chen Mei, under pressure and threat from the police. The decision does not represent what he really thinks,” said Chen Kun, Mei's brother.
Kun also stated that he had hired a lawyer named Liang Xiaojun for representing his brother. Xiaojun said that the charges for arresting both the activists were “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. He also said that such vague charges are commonly used for targeting activists and dissidents. Cases such as these generally end up with activists being given a custodial sentence.
While the Chinese law provides free state-appointed legal aid to defendants who cannot hire a lawyer of their own, Mei's brother said that the lawyers appointed by Chinese authorities must cut ties with his brother's case. “I hope they will have a conscience and not aid and abet the evildoers. Otherwise, I will prosecute them for their involvement in political persecution before all possible international bodies.”