The wife of a Christian Chinese human rights attorney who admitted to trying to overthrow the Communist Party has slammed his confession as nothing more than a "show" orchestrated by the oppressive government.
On Tuesday, Jiang Tianyong, who was last year arrested amid a nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers, pleaded guilty to inciting subversion of the state.
In a trial streamed live on the internet and shown on television news in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in southern China, Jiang said he had sought to "overthrow the socialist system" after attending legal training sessions overseas.
"The workshops were mainly about Western constitutional system. They had an impact on me, helping develop ideas of overthrowing China's system and implementing the Western system in China," the state-backed Global Times reported him as saying.
Jiang, known for his work defending Tibetan protesters, fellow human rights lawyers and Falun Gong practitioners, said he had defended the detained lawyers to make trouble for the Chinese government.
He said he wanted to "achieve the goal of overturning the state and transforming the current political system by causing a fuss over these sensitive, hot spot incidents and vilifying and attacking our country's government and legal organs."
"No matter whether you forgive me or not, I am very sorry from the bottom of my heart," Jiang told the court.
However, Jiang's wife, Jin Bianling, who lives in the United States, told Reuters by phone that she considered the trial and the videos to be nothing more than a "show" orchestrated by authorities to make Jiang appear guilty.
"I call on the world and the United States government to pay attention and to make representations to China on the behalf of Jiang Tianyong," Jin said. "The only crime he is guilty of is helping his fellow lawyers. All the rest is nonsense."
Before her husband's trial, Jin penned an open letter warning that if her husband confessed, it would be the result of the torture he endured after nearly a year in secret detention.
"We're convinced that Jiang Tianyong is innocent," she said in the letter. "Even if Jiang Tianyong pleads guilty in court, that will certainly be under torture unimaginable to ordinary people."
The Chinese Human Rights Defenders group also rejected Jiang's claimed admission of guilt. "Any confession likely the result of torture," it said on Twitter.
Jiang first disappeared into custody in November 2016 when he was traveling to Changsha from Beijing to help Xie Yang, another Chinese rights lawyer held in detention. Earlier this year, Xie's lawyers released detailed allegations that he had been tortured in custody. However, at his trial in May, Xie retracted the allegations pleaded guilty to subversion and disrupting court proceedings.
Similarly, at Tuesday's hearing, Jiang said he had helped fabricate Mr. Xie's claims of torture.
According to The Guardian, the Christian lawyer had been detained on "many occasions." He was first placed under arrest in 2009, when he addressed the legislature during a visit to the US. In the following years, he was repeatedly detained and beaten by police.
"Subversion of state power" carries a minimum jail term of 10 years in cases where the person is judged to have played a leading role, but heavier sentences are given in cases regarded as having "serious consequences."
The Communist party has expressed discomfort with the growing influence of Christianity in the country, and hundreds of Christians, including pastors, lawyers, and activists, have been arrested for speaking out against the ongoing persecution. Today, many of them are still detained. Human rights attorneys who provide legal support to churches in China have also been subjected to police brutality and coerced into confessing on television that they have disturbed the peace, and jeopardized national security.