A Chinese legal scholar who believes he's being framed by the communist government after he wrote a series of essays criticizing President Xi Jinping's leadership style, especially after the 2018 constitutional changes which allowed Xi to rule for life, is taking the extremely rare step of defying the party by filing a lawsuit against police.
Xu Zhangrun was until earlier this month a law professor at one of Beijing's most prestigious universities. But that institution, Tsinghua University, fired him after police arrested him on the professionally humiliating charge of soliciting prostitution. Xu was held in detention for a week and then released with little explanation.
But despite authorities showing no evidence whatsoever - not even documents or surveillance footage to suggest he was even at a hotel with a prostitute as the police said - this was enough to get him dismissed from his prestigious teaching position.
Xu and his supporters think it hearkens back to his public essays which case the country's leader Xi in a negative light. "Professor Xu believes there is no evidence whatsoever supporting their claim that he solicited prostitutes and believes he is being framed and entrapped," an unnamed person involved in the case told FT.
According to The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Xu on Tuesday engaged a pair of well-known human-rights lawyers, Mo Shaoping and Shang Baojun, to assist his efforts to overturn the solicitation charge, according to Mr. Shang. Police had accused Mr. Xu of committing the offense in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu in December, an allegation the former professor rejected as false and “wholly nonexistent,” Mr. Shang said.
Though the country doesn't have Miranda rights, it's normal procedure to at least be given access to a copy of the police-detention order, which his lawyers are now working to obtain.
The 57-year-old was told by his university that not only was being terminated based on the prostitution arrest, but due to the series of political-related essays he'd authored going back to July 2018.
The WSJ notes it he was "deemed to have violated a code of conduct for teachers at tertiary institutions, according to a photo of the notice reviewed by The Wall Street Journal."
The WSJ report suggests that it may still be uncertain whether or not he and his lawyers will move forward with the lawsuit, or if they'll simply appeal the police and university decisions and seek reinstatement. Regardless, it was a bold move to hire lawyers and seek to overturn everything in the first place.
And now given the Western media attention, if Xu was indeed framed by someone or entities high within the party, we can expect the lawsuit and story itself to quietly go away, given the nature of the Chinese system.