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BEIJING | A Tibetan environmentalist once praised as a model philanthropist was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday on charges of grave robbing and dealing in looted antiquities. Supporters said the case was aimed at punishing his activism.

The trial of Karma Samdrup came after he spoke up for his two brothers, also environmental activists, who were detained after accusing local officials in eastern Tibet of poaching endangered species. Authorities in tightly controlled Tibet are extremely sensitive to social activism and criticism, whether explicit or implied.

The cases come amid increased repression of Tibetan intellectuals, an echo of the massive security crackdown that followed rioting in the capital, Lhasa, in 2008 in which at least 22 people died.

In addition to the prison sentence, Mr. Samdrup was stripped of his political rights for five years and fined 10,000 yuan ($1,500) after a three-day trial with sessions that lasted until midnight, lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told Associated Press.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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