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Citizenship card of Canadian Falun Gong practitioner Sun Qian who was arrested in Beijing in Feb. 2017, for her beliefs.

A Canadian Falun Gong practitioner arrested in China for her beliefs is admitting guilt and does not want to meet with her lawyer, the woman says in a note produced by authorities in Beijing.

The note has raised fears among family members that Sun Qian, who was arrested in February, 2017, and stood trial two months ago, has been coerced into a confession on charges of “organizing/using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.” Chinese authorities commonly use this charge to prosecute adherents of Falun Gong, which China calls an evil sect.

Li Jinsong, Ms. Sun’s lawyer, said that on Monday, staff at the detention centre where his client is being held showed him the note, in which she says she is “now in the process of pleading guilty.” He was not permitted to retain a copy of the note or to photograph it. But he recalled Ms. Sun wrote: “If I were to meet my lawyer at this time, they would pass information to me that might hinder my completion of this process.”

The note was signed and fingerprinted, and the handwriting resembled Ms. Sun’s, Mr. Li said. “It may be true that she is now pleading guilty,” he said. But “she can’t be guilty just because she says she is. The court also needs evidence to prove that she is not innocent.”

If the note is genuine, Ms. Sun’s sister said she worries it was written “under the coercion of torture and high pressure."

During nearly two years of incarceration, Ms. Sun “hasn’t wavered even a little bit. She never considered herself guilty for believing in Falun Gong,” said Sun Zan, who lives in Beijing. “I don’t believe she would abandon her own beliefs now.”

Human rights groups have catalogued dozens of confessions in recent years that they say were coerced. Some have also been televised.

Once a wealthy businesswoman, Sun Qian was arrested in early, 2017, in her home in Beijing. Her family has accused her husband of using her adherence to Falun Gong to turn her in. Family members say he was having an affair with a younger woman with whom he conspired to seize control of the company he ran with Ms. Sun.

Ms. Sun immigrated to Canada and obtained a Canadian passport in the mid-2000s (she is no longer a Chinese citizen, her family says), and Canadian consular officials in China have regularly visited her in detention.

“We continue to closely monitor developments,” and Canadian officials “have raised this case directly with our Chinese counterparts,” said John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada.

“We have raised the human rights situation in China at every appropriate opportunity and we will continue to encourage China to live up to its international commitments,“ he said.

Soon after her arrest, Ms. Sun alleged in writing that she was tortured and forced to wear the same clothing for two months.

Chinese authorities have said coerced confessions cannot be admitted in court, and have put video cameras in incarceration facilities. In 2012, they took the unusual step of touring foreign journalists through Beijing’s No. 1 Detention Centre, where Ms. Sun is being held.

Yang Lei, a senior official at the detention centre, declined to answer questions about Ms. Sun. “The case is still ongoing. I can’t tell you anything about it,” he said in a brief phone interview. "Whether she pled guilty or not is none of your business.”

Mr. Li has visited Ms. Sun twice since her Sept. 12 trial, and said she showed no signs of physical abuse. He has not been told why a court has not returned a verdict yet – but a guilty plea would necessitate a new trial.

If she confessed, he was not present. In China, Mr. Li said, “prisoners’ words have legal power. So once she says she is guilty in the detention centre, no matter if I am there or not, the words will be considered to have effect.”

He declined to speculate on why his client might suddenly confess.

In the past, some human rights activists who pled guilty did so because they “didn’t want to drag other people into their cases, and wanted to put an end to everything,” Mr. Li said.

“We know some lawyers were released because they pled guilty. But I don’t want to make any guesses about why they did it.”

With a report from Chris Hannay in Ottawa

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