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China sentences disabled activist to more than two years in jail

A man holds a placard calling for justice in the trial of Chinese rights activist Ni Yulan outside a courthouse during Ni's trial, in Beijing on December 29, 2011.

Story highlights

  • Chinese authorities detained Ni Yulan during a crackdown on activists last year
  • A court jails the disabled lawyer and her husband for "picking quarrels"
  • She drew attention for her work on behalf of tenants threatened by construction

A Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced a disabled lawyer who defended tenants' rights to more than two years in jail for "picking quarrels" and fraud, a local human rights advocacy group said.

Ni Yulan, who has been repeatedly detained and harassed over the past decade by Chinese authorities, received a prison sentence of two years and eight months for the two charges combined, Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement on its website, citing Ni's lawyer, Cheng Hai.

Ni's husband, Dong Jiqin, was sentenced to two years in prison on the charges, according to the advocacy group.

The couple were most recently taken into custody in April 2011 during a broad crackdown on activists by the Chinese government as the Arab Spring uprisings shook authoritarian regimes across North Africa and the Middle East.

Ni came to prominence for her work on behalf of people whose homes were in the way of the construction spree spurred by the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

On Tuesday, she sat in court in her wheelchair with a blanket on her lap, the advocacy group said.

Cheng said he would propose a meeting with Ni in the coming days and suggest an appeal, according to the group.