Prominent mainland human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for state subversion on Monday, a court in Tianjin said.
Wang was "found guilty of subverting state power, sentenced to four years and six months in prison, and deprived of political rights for five years," the Tianjin Second Intermediate People's Court said in a statement.
Reacting to the news, Wang's wife Li Wenzu said that the verdict shows that her husband has not given up on his principles despite the years of detention.
Li last year brought her husband's plight to the media's attention by marching from Beijing to a Tianjin jail where her husband was reportedly detained, but she was stopped by police before she reached her destination.
In December last year, Li and three supporters shaved their heads in protest against Wang's indefinite detention. The Chinese words for being completely bald and having a state of lawlessness – "wufa" – are homonyms.
Li said on Monday that the verdict is not the end of the matter and she believes her husband will launch an appeal.
She said that she is now worried about the health of her husband as he has been under detention for over three years.
Wang's sister, Wang Quanxiu, told RTHK that she has not been able to stop crying over the heavy punishment handed down to her brother.
She said he hasn't committed any crime and it is the authorities that have failed to uphold the rule of law.
Wang Quanzhang was detained in a sweeping crackdown on lawyers and activists in 2015 and was the final person arrested to be tried or released.
The lawyer, who had defended political activists and victims of land seizures, was charged with subversion in 2016 after his whereabouts remained a mystery for many months, with the authorities refusing to give his family any information about his detention.
His case had attracted global attention and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her Beijing visit met Li to offer her support.
Recently the Hong Kong Bar Association had joined a call by the Geneva Bar Association which urged the mainland authorities to release Wang Quanzhang as soon as possible.
Members of a local activist group, the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, had also staged protests outside Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong over Wang Quanzhang's detention. (Additional reporting by AFP)
Last updated: 2019-01-28 HKT 13:11