A dissident legal scholar who was jailed for two years in China after participating in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement was killed on Monday in his law office in New York, where he settled after seeking asylum in the US, police said.
Li Jinjin, 66, was stabbed to death in the city where he had long worked as an immigration lawyer, advocating publicly for people jailed or killed by Chinese authorities during the nation’s democracy movement.
Police said Xiaoning Zhang, 25, was taken into custody and faced a murder charge. It wasn’t immediately clear when she would be arraigned or if she had retained an attorney.
Chuang Chuang Chen, chief executive of the China Democracy Party, and lawyer Wei Zhu, a friend of Li, told the New York Daily News the killing might have stemmed from Li’s refusal to take Zhang on as a client.
Zhang came to the US in August on an F-1 student visa to go to school in Los Angeles, Chen told the Daily News.
Li, who also went by the first name Jim, was often quoted by news organizations looking for insight on the Chinese dissident community or relations between China and the west.
As an immigration lawyer, he represented some Chinese expatriates in the US who were considered fugitives by that country.
Prior to his imprisonment for protesting, Li was a legal adviser to an independent labor union that challenged China’s government on worker rights.
“I can’t believe it. She not only destroyed his life but the hope of our community,” Zhu told the Daily News. “He wanted to realize democracy in China. He will never realize that dream.”