Mr Mo also represented Mr Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, who was under house arrest for eight years until she was released suddenly in Germany last year.
He also represents other prominent human rights lawyers, a hazardous profession in China. His client Pu Zhiqiang received a three-year suspended prison sentence in December 2015.over social media posts.
Mr Mo’s own firm was searched by Chinese authorities in September 2017 during the lead-up to the Community Party congress in October that year.
Taking on politically sensitive cases can be hazardous in Xi Jinping’s China, with human rights lawyers are under more scrutiny than ever. Other lawyers say Mr Mo has a reputation for being able to handle sensitive cases and find a compromise.
“My position is that whatever crime someone has committed, he should always have the right to a lawyer. That is one of the most basic human rights,” he told The New York Times in in 2009.
When contacted by The Australian Financial Review on Friday, Mr Mo was in negotiations with the Chinese authorities to visit Mr Yang.
Lawyers representing detained writers, journalists or activists in China are often the only line of communications with their client’s families.
Human Rights Watch China researcher Yaqiu Wang said China was seeking to silence lawyers by disbarring them before a trial or being told not to speak about it to the public or their families.
“Chinese authorities started weaponising disbarment of human rights lawyers about a decade ago,” he wrote recently.
“The tactic has intensified since August 2017, two years after the ‘709’ crackdown in which police rounded up more than 300 human rights lawyers and activists across the country.
“Now lawyers risk disbarment for merely defending activists in court or for reporting on prosecutions.”