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First published by Reuters on April 14, 2016

Chinese legal authorities on Thursday formally disbarred a prominent rights lawyer who was handed a suspended sentence last year for writing Internet posts the government said incited ethnic hatred, ending his career.

Activists have said the three-year suspended sentence for Pu Zhiqiang would serve as a strong reminder to other rights lawyers that the Communist Party, currently engaged in a severe clampdown on dissent, would brook no challenge to its rule.

Pu has represented many well-known dissidents, including artist Ai Weiwei and activists of the “New Citizens’ Movement”, a group that has called on Chinese leaders to make their wealth public, and his case attracted wide concern in Western capitals.

Pu told Reuters he had received the formal notification from the Beijing City Judicial Bureau that his lawyer’s licence had been revoked. He declined further comment, saying he was not supposed to accept interviews.

Calls to the judicial bureau seeking comment went unanswered.

Fellow rights lawyer and friend Shang Baojun told Reuters the disbarment had been expected since Pu’s conviction in December, because a person found guilty of a criminal offence is not allowed to practice law.

“Unless one day his conviction is overturned, then he’ll never be allowed to practice law again. It’s really the end of his career,” Shang said.

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