(Minghui.org) An Anshan City, Liaoning Province, resident was tried earlier this month for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Xu Hui, in her 40s, appeared in the Lishan District Court on July 8, 2019, eight months after she was arrested on November 16, 2018, for distributing calendars with information about Falun Gong. She has been detained the Anshan City Women's Prison ever since.

Ms. Xu's lawyer entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. She also testified in her own defense. She argued that she should never have been charged for exercising her constitutionally granted right to freedom of belief by practicing Falun Gong.

The prosecutor accused Ms. Xu of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” a standard pretext used by the communist regime to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

Her lawyer argued that no law in China had ever deemed practicing Falun Gong a crime or labeled it a cult. He also cited a notice by the Chinese publication bureau in which they revoked the ban on the publication of Falun Gong books in 2011 and argued that it was totally legal for Ms. Xu to distribute calendars with information about Falun Gong.

The prosecutor included Ms. Xu's 15-day detention for appealing for Falun Gong in 1999 and another detention in 2016 for distributing Falun Gong materials as evidence against her.

Her lawyer countered that Ms. Xu didn't cause any harm to anyone by appealing for or sharing information about Falun Gong and that her previous detentions were wrongful detentions and couldn't be considered valid evidence.

The lawyer also asked how it was possible that the accounts of two witnesses provided by the prosecutor read exactly the same, with no differences whatsoever. He said that they shouldn't be considered admissible evidence either.

In the closing statement, Ms. Xu's lawyer said everything that the prosecutor presented only served top to prove that his client practiced Falun Gong, but nothing indicated she violated any law or caused harm to anyone.

Two local residents who attended the hearing said they were impressed with the lawyer's defense. They commented that they were surprised to learn that practicing Falun Gong didn't violate any law and that it was actually the government that was persecuting this spiritual discipline.

Ms. Xu is the youngest of six sisters and had been the sole caregiver for her 93-year- old father for the past 13 years. Her father said that he is longing for her return so she can take care of him again, including reading him the newspaper and shaving his beard.