China Asked to Release Activist and Probe Torture Allegation

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch is calling on China to release a Tibetan environmental activist and investigate allegations of torture that he and his lawyer made at a court hearing.

The rights group said Wednesday the case against Karma Samdrup has been marked by "severe and numerous procedural violations and restrictions on his right to defense."

Samdrup's wife said her husband's appearance shocked her when she saw him at a court hearing Tuesday in Yanji, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Karma Samdrup told the court that authorities beat him, deprived him of sleep and drugged him in an effort to make him confess to grave robbing.

Samdrup is a prominent Tibetan environmental activist and a well-known collector of Tibetan art. He was arrested in January.

Human Rights Watch said the charges against Samdrup "appear to be dated and trumped up (false)." The group said the trial would be a test of China's commitment to halt torture of criminal suspects and prevent miscarriages of justice.

There was no immediate response from Chinese authorities.