China found Pu Zhiqiang, one of its most prominent civil rights lawyers, guilty of “provoking trouble” and “inciting ethnic hatred” on Tuesday.

Pu, who is seen by supporters as a champion of free speech, had pleaded not guilty to all charges, but was expecting a sentence of up to eight years in prison. However, the court handed down a three-year suspended sentence, which means Pu could be released to go home, the state-run broadcaster announced on Weibo.

With the suspended sentence, Pu may be able to avoid jail time if he doesn’t violate the terms of probation or has other charges brought against him over the three years, National University of Singapore law school professor Wang Jiang Yu explained, speaking to Singapore paper Lianhe Zaobao. [link in Chinese] Read more…

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Prominent Chinese rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang gets 3-year suspended sentence