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A group of foreign legal experts has asked China for permission to observe this week's trial of detained dissident Wang Dan, a human-rights group said Saturday.

Wang is charged with plotting to overthrow the government, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of death and a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The legal team consists of French Sen. Robert Badinter, former U.S. Attorneys General Nicholas Katzenbach and Richard Thornburgh, and former Canadian Solicitor-General Warren Allmand, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said.

Wang, 26, who vanished into detention in May 1995, is expected to plead not guilty at his trial, scheduled to open Wednesday.

Wang has served four years in prison for his role in pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square that were crushed by the army in June 1989.

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