A Chinese lawyer nominated for a top human rights award is in poor health after years in prison, his wife told AFP Tuesday.
Yu Wensheng was detained in Beijing in January 2018 in front of his young son just hours after he wrote an open letter calling for constitutional reforms, including multi-candidate elections.
He was tried in secret and sentenced to four years in prison last June for “inciting subversion of state power”.
“His physical state is very poor. His right hand is deformed and trembles so much that he cannot write,” his wife Xu Yan told AFP.
Yu was nominated Monday for the Martin Ennals Award, which organisers hope will shine a light on abuses in authoritarian states.
Xu said her husband’s nomination “not only supports and honours (him), but is also an encouragement and affirmation to other human rights lawyers and defenders”.
China has seen a dramatic crackdown on civil liberties and freedoms since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, with hundreds of human rights lawyers and activists detained in recent years.
Yu was known for taking on a number of high-profile rights cases, including the defence of fellow lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who was among more than 300 legal professionals and activists arrested in a July 2015 crackdown.
He also became well known for suing the Beijing government for the city’s chronic air pollution.
Yu’s defence lawyer Lu Siwei had his legal license revoked by authorities last week after handling several sensitive human rights cases.