China Arrests Dissident Over Online Petition

One of China’s most prominent human rights activists has been arrested after publication of an open letter to the government from hundreds of prominent Chinese intellectuals, according to his wife and a colleague. The document, published Tuesday on the Internet, proposes extensive political reform, including an end to one-party rule.

The unusually bold appeal, released a day before International Human Rights Day, has struck a discordant note here amid the Chinese government’s attempts to paint a picture of progress as the country prepares to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its policy of reform and opening up.


By Lauren Keane
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 11, 2008; Page A18

Police arrested veteran dissident Liu Xiaobo, suspected of organizing the petition, late Monday at his Beijing home. His wife told reporters that several policemen had arrived with an arrest warrant about 11 p.m.; some took him away, she said, and the others stayed through the night to search the house and confiscate computers, books and other belongings.

Another prominent signer of the document, political theorist and activist Zhang Zuhua, was arrested and detained at the same time but was released the next morning after a lengthy interrogation, he said. His house was also searched and belongings confiscated. Zhang said Liu is being detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.

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