26 Jan 2014

China court jails activist Xu Zhiyong

6:03 pm on 26 January 2014

A Chinese court has sentenced prominent human rights activist Xu Zhiyong to four years in prison.

Xu, who campaigned for children's rights and against corruption, was convicted of "gathering crowds to disrupt public order".

Several other activists from a transparency movement are facing similar charges.

Rights groups have criticised President Xi Jinping - who pledged to fight corruption - over their cases.

Xu was arrested in July 2013 and the trial began on Wednesday.

The BBC reports the court announced the jail sentence on its official microblog on Sunday.

Xu Zhiyong, who was also previously under house arrest, is a leading member of a group calling for officials to reveal their wealth.

He has also campaigned on behalf of inmates on death row and families affected by tainted baby milk formula, among other causes.

In 2009 he was arrested on tax evasion charges that were eventually dropped after public outcry.

Seven members of his informal grassroots group, New Citizens Movement, also are also facing separate trials on similar charges.