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A 65-year-old democracy activist who tried to set up an opposition party in China has been sentenced to six years in jail, a human rights group said Thursday.

A court in Hangzhou, a prosperous city in eastern Zhejiang province, sentenced Wang Rongqing on Wednesday on charges of subverting state power for organizing the banned China Democracy Party, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

Wang was detained in June, two months before the Olympic Games started, the group said. Wang's brother, Wang Rongyao, confirmed the sentence. The Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court could not be immediately be reached for comment.

Wang has been repeatedly harassed and detained by police during his years of activism, which started in the late 1970s as China's hard-line Maoist era came to a close and some started calling for democracy. He was detained for two months in 1999.

"He was not in good physical condition and he stood in court with the assistance of the police, but he was in good spirits," said Zou Wei, a friend and fellow dissident of Wang who was in court Wednesday.

Founded by dissidents in mid-1998, the China Democracy Party was quashed just six months later by the Communist Party, which allows no challenge to its political monopoly. Dozens of activists were arrested and sentenced to up to 13 years in prison, most on charges of subverting state power.


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