The final appeal of Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng was rejected today by a Beijing superior court, condemning the 45-year-old democracy advocate to serve a 14-year prison term for "conspiring to subvert the government."
"This morning, Beijing's supreme people's court heard Wei's case and upheld the original sentence," court spokesman Chen Xiong said.
The rejection came one day after China's State Council, the nation's highest governmental body, issued a positive report on the country's human rights policies and took a swipe at Western countries with high rates of crime.
Wei's family was summoned to a courthouse in western Beijing this morning to hear the reading of the essentially pro forma decision. Appeals are very rarely accepted in Chinese courts, particularly in politically charged cases.
Wei, who has spent more than 16 years in custody since playing a prominent role in the 1978-79 Democracy Wall movement, was convicted by a three-judge panel Dec. 13.
Wei's family had hoped that international pressure would force the Beijing court to reverse the conviction.
But with 91-year-old senior leader Deng Xiaoping ailing and a succession battle looming, the Chinese leadership has taken a hard line on dissent.
Earlier this week, China dismissed a personal appeal from German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and expelled journalist Henrik Bork, a reporter for the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, who had been critical of senior officials.
On Wednesday, the State Council, issued a report contending that the "overall human rights situation is improving." The report said China's criminal incarceration rate of 10.7 people per 10,000 population is five times lower than in Western countries, including the United States.