Human rights groups and activists are criticizing China's plans to put prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo on trial this week, with one group calling his case a travesty of justice.
Sophie Richardson, the Asia advocacy director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, says the only purpose of Liu's trial is - in her words - "to dress up naked political repression in the trappings of legal proceedings."
Richardson also accuses Beijing of ignoring its universal human rights commitments.
Liu was detained more than a year ago after he helped co-author a bold pro-democracy petition known as "Charter 08" that attracted thousands of signatures.He has been indicted for "incitement to subvert state power," a charge China frequently uses against dissidents that allows it to criminalize criticism of the government and the party.
Rights groups fear officials in China will rush the case through its courts during the Western holiday season in a bid to attract less global attention.
Liu, a former university professor who spent nearly two years in prison after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
In a statement Monday, a network of activists called Chinese Human Rights Defenders said police are interrogating and intimidating supporters of Liu prior to his trial - which is expected to begin Wednesday.
The network said police have visited Liu's supporters and warned them not to attend his trial or show their support on the Internet.The director of the rights group expressed concern that Liu's right to a fair trial will not be respected. She said the recent police actions suggest there may be further efforts by authorities to harass potential observers and prevent them from attending the trial. Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters