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China tells US not to interfere in case of rights lawyer

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BEIJING (AP) — China accused the United States of meddling in its judicial affairs on Thursday after the State Department urged Beijing to release a prominent rights lawyer who has been detained for a year without formal charges.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing that China is handling the case in accordance with its laws. She said the United States should not act as the world's policeman and should focus instead on its own domestic problems.

"We hope that the U.S. will abandon dual standards and adopt more measured approaches and stop intervening in China's judicial sovereignty and independence in any way," she said.

Hua was responding to a State Department statement marking one year in detention for lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. Pu was taken away after he attended a private meeting commemorating the 25th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

He is best known for his successful efforts to abolish China's labor camps, which allowed police to lock up people for up to four years without a trial or judicial review.

Before his detention, he was campaigning against an extrajudicial practice by the party's disciplinary arm to lock up party members accused of wrongdoing.

Pu is being held on police allegations of inciting divisions, fanning ethnic hatred, illegally obtaining personal information and provoking disturbances. The charges largely stem from online comments critical of government policies and practices, according to his lawyers.

Prosecutors have asked police for further evidence to back up the allegations, lawyer Mo Shaoping said.

Beijing has taken actions against a number of rights lawyers who have steadfastly maintained that laws must be observed by the government and ruling Communist Party as well as ordinary people.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke described Pu in the statement as "a courageous defense attorney recognized around the world for his tireless work in support of the rule of law in China."

"We reiterate our call on China to release and remove all restrictions on Pu Zhiqiang, and to respect his rights in accordance with China's international human rights commitments," the statement said.

Rathke also raised concerns over reports that Pu, who has diabetes, has been subjected to harsh conditions and denied access to proper medical treatment.

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