Athens (AFP) - Chinese lawyer Wang Yu, facing a possible life sentence in China, was on Saturday awarded the prestigious Ludovic Trarieux Prize for her work defending human rights, organisers announced in Athens on Saturday.
Wang, arrested in July 2015, is one of an estimated 250 lawyers and activists detained in a crackdown since then. She is charged with "state subversion" and could receive a life sentence.
China accuses Wang and others of using a Beijing law firm as a front to organise criminal activity. Her husband, a lawyer, is also in custody while her 16-year-old son is under police surveillance.
In choosing Wang, the jury wanted to "hail the courage" of a woman who "decided that she could no longer keep her mouth shut" despite the danger of speaking out, the prize's founder Bernard Favreau told AFP.
"She chose to expose herself to dangers in order to defend the rights of women, children and persecuted minorities," he said.
In February, UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called for the immediate release of rights lawyers and activists detained in the country, warning that China appeared to be locking up government critics regardless of whether they had committed a crime.
Beijing rejected the comments as "irresponsible", adding in a statement that Zeid had a "biased, subjective and selective" view of the country.
The first Ludovic Trarieux Prize was presented in 1985 to Nelson Mandela's daughter Zenani, who received the award on behalf of her lawyer-turned-activist father -- who was still languishing in jail at the time.
The prize -- named after the 19th-century French lawyer Ludovic Trarieux, a staunch defender of Alfred Dreyfus, who was falsely accused of treason in France -- has been awarded 20 times over the last three decades.