A prominent activist who called himself the "Ultra Vulgar Butcher" was given an eight-year prison sentence Tuesday for subversion, the harshest sentence handed down in a sweeping crackdown on rights campaigners. Per the AP, the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court said in an online statement that Wu Gan had made many remarks online that "attacked state power" and accused him of hyping cases that "discredited state organs" by organizing illegal public gatherings, causing trouble, and making abusive comments online about other people. It said such actions were part of a series of criminal activities seeking to "overthrow state power and the socialist system." In court, Wu struck an irreverent note in his remarks following the sentence, saying he was "grateful to the party for granting me this lofty honor," per his lawyer, Ge Yongxi.
Vaguely defined subversion charges are frequently leveled against human rights activists and perceived political foes of the ruling Communist Party. Wu was among the first activists and lawyers caught up in an intense crackdown by authorities that began in 2015. He'd become known among rights advocates and lawyers for his attention-grabbing campaigns, including one in which he posed for online portraits brandishing knives that he said he'd use to "slaughter the pigs" among local officials who'd done wrong. Wu was detained in May 2015 for two years after traveling to Nanchang to put pressure on a judge. He was released on bail in May after pleading guilty to the charges, and his secretive one-day trial was held in August. Another human rights activist says Wu's fight for justice "will inspire more and more people to stomp on this government." Wu will appeal the court's ruling, his lawyer says.