Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prominent Chinese blogger Ran Yunfei charged as crackdown deepens

Chinese police have arrested prominent writer Ran Yunfei for challenging the ruling Communist Party, people close to the blogger said on Monday, the latest in a string of arrests in a deepening crackdown on dissent.

Ran, a writer and literature magazine editor from southwest Sichuan province, who had been detained without charge for more than a month, was formally arrested on the charge of inciting subversion of state power, Wang Yi, a Christian activist in Sichuan and a friend of Ran, told Reuters.

Ran, 46, was detained by police in Chengdu on February 20 as unrest rippling across the Middle East generated online calls for similar "Jasmine Revolution" protests in China.

The charge of inciting subversion was also used to jail Liu Xiaobo, the dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize, which infuriated Beijing.

"Basically, it's the crime of expressing your opinions," said Wang, formerly a legal scholar. "In this case, too, the prosecutors will probably use essays that Ran has published on the Internet."

Nobel Laureate Liu has been serving an 11-year sentence since 2009 for co-writing the Charter 08 manifesto that called for sweeping political reform and is seen as one of the boldest challenges to Communist Party rule in recent memory.

The Chinese authorities are seeking to stifle any potential challenge to their power ahead of a Party leadership handover in late 2012. (read more)