Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have refused an application for bail on behalf of a top jailed rights lawyer, who has been held for more than four months without charge, his lawyers said.
Yang Maodong, better known as Guo Feixiong, was criminally detained on Aug. 8 on charges of "incitement to disturb public order," after being involved in anti-censorship and anti-corruption protests earlier this year.
"We received a letter from the Tianhe district police department telling us that Guo Feixiong had probably destroyed evidence and interfered with witnesses, so his bail application was being turned down," Guo's lawyer Chen Guangwu told RFA's Cantonese Service.
Chen said the allegations were nonsense.
"Guo Feixiong would never obstruct witnesses in the course of giving evidence, nor escape, nor obstruct the course of an investigation by judicial organs," he said.
"We think this is an excuse, because they have no evidence to show that Guo would interfere with the case against him if he were granted bail," Chen added.
Chen said he had recently spoken to investigators, who said they were not passing his case to the prosecution "for the time being," suggesting that the police have insufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
Fellow activist Xie Fei, who tried to deliver fresh clothing and food to Guo at the detention center where he is being held on Tuesday, said the authorities refused to accept the items.
"They said someone had already brought things for Guo Feixiong, so we asked to see the records, but they wouldn't let us," Xie said in an interview on Wednesday.
Crackdown on anti-corruption activists
In October, dozens of campaigners signed a public petition calling for Guo's release, saying his detention was a "massive" human rights violation.
The campaign to free Guo has become symbolic of the ongoing crackdown on activists who have called since March on the highest-ranking ruling Chinese Communist Party leaders to reveal details of their assets, and those of their families.
President Xi Jinping has launched a nationwide clampdown on corruption, warning that the ruling Chinese Communist Party must beat graft or lose power.
However, police continue to detain activists who call for greater transparency.
Guo was released from jail in September 2011 following a five-year jail term and has previously been subjected to extrajudicial detention and torture.
The rights lawyer, whose wife and two children were granted political asylum in the United States in 2009, rose to prominence during a 2005 campaign by the people of Guangdong's Taishi village to recall their elected chief amid allegations of corruption.
He was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in 2006 by a Guangdong court for "illegal business practices" after repeated beatings and detentions did little to deter his legal advocacy work.
China has launched a clampdown in recent years on its embattled legal profession, with many civil rights law firms struggling to renew their licenses.
Rights groups say there is little purpose to the annual licensing scheme for lawyers and law firms, besides the exertion of state control over the legal profession.
New rules introduced in the past two years ban lawyers from defending certain clients, and leave them vulnerable to being charged themselves with subversion if they defend sensitive cases.
Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.