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China defends exit ban on human rights lawyer

AFP  |  Beijing 

on Thursday defended an exit ban imposed on a as lawful after the urged to let him travel to receive a US fellowship.

was selected to study English as part of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, a programme named for the late that provides a year of US education for emerging leaders from around the world.

But the said he was pulled aside by customs at Capital airport as he prepared to board a flight to on April 1 and told he was banned from leaving

"This persecution of lawyers and disregard for the rule of law once again shows to the world that the is openly and unceasingly depriving people of their human rights," he said in a statement.

"Nothing stops the from doing whatever it wants to, disregarding any law or commitment it makes," he said.

The said it was "disturbed" by the move and urged to "respect Chen's freedom of movement and to view lawyers and rights defenders as partners in strengthening Chinese society through development of rule of law."

Chinese said Thursday the exit ban was "in accordance with China's own laws."

"China's relevant departments are... handling the exit-entry affairs of the relevant Chinese national in accordance with the law," Lu said at a regular press briefing.

Chen had represented Xie Yang, a involved in politically sensitive cases including the defending of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, who was himself rounded up in a sweeping crackdown on legal staff in 2015.

Chen remained vocal on the case even after authorities removed him as Xie's lawyer, drawing attention to his former client's allegations of torture in police custody. Exit bans are a common way for China to try to curb the activities of figures it sees as disturbing the communist system.

In a 2017 incident criticised by the human rights office, Chen was stopped while vacationing with his family in remote province.

His wife and young children were allowed to fly back to Beijing, but Chen said he was taken back via a 3,200-kilometre road journey under police escort.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 11 2019. 16:15 IST