Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu have redetained an activist released at the end of his prison sentence in a move likely linked to the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre on June 4.
Wang Mo was among four mainland Chinese activists jailed for their public support of the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections in Hong Kong in April 2016.
Wang and co-defendant Xie Wenfei were handed four-and-a-half-year prison sentences by the Intermediate People's Court in Guangdong's provincial capital, Guangzhou, after being found guilty of "incitement to subvert state power."
Zhang Shengyu was jailed for four years, while Liang Qinhui, also known by his online nickname "Sharp Knife," was handed an 18-month prison sentence on the same charges.
All four men had expressed public support for the Occupy Central movement, and were detained amid a nationwide roundup of at least 100 mainland Chinese supporters of the Hong Kong protests.
Xie, who has also been released, said Wang's family had yet to receive any notification of his redetention.
Politically sensitive dates
He said Wang was likely detained after he tried to travel to Beijing during a time of heightened security ahead of a string of politically sensitive dates.
"Right now, there is the broader context of the 30th anniversary [of the 1989 democracy movement and subsequent massacre], as well as the so-called 70th anniversary of the found of the People's Republic of China," Xie told RFA.
"The people watching him were from the state security police, as well as the local police station and police department, liaising with each other," he said.
"When the state security police had a talk with him on May 9, they said ... it was to do with his fund-raising, but I think this has a lot to do with the climate of fear in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of June 4, ," he said.
Xie said Wang was last heard from in his home city of Huai'an. Calls to the municipal police department rang unanswered during office hours on Thursday.
"His family is reluctant to disclose too much information [and] they haven't told us which detention center he is being held in," he said. "I think the charge in his case is pretty random."
He said Wang's son would likely be the person to hire a lawyer, as the rest of the family had close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Support for Hong Kong democracy
Xie also said Wang is highly unlikely to go along with official requests for cooperation.
"Wang is the last person who is going to play ball," he said. "Based on his personality, I'm not very optimistic."
Guangxi-based rights lawyer Tan Yongpei said he had met with Wang since his release, to discuss democracy and constitutional government.
"We're looking for a lawyer to go visit him near Jiangsu," Tan told RFA. "We may manage to get this in place by tomorrow."
He said Wang's redetention could be linked to the recent detention of prominent human rights lawyer Chen Jiahong.
Authorities in Guangxi recently detained Chen after spoke out about curbs to China's legal profession and the abolition of presidential term limits by President Xi Jinping.
Chen is currently under criminal detention at Guangxi's Yulin Detention Center, on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," RFA has learned.
His detention came after he posted a video to social media in which he calls for "an assassination commando," and to be "rid of this evil bureaucracy," in an apparent reference to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Chen also called for a democratic process to work towards constitutional government in China, Tan said.
Xie, who is also known as Xie Fengxia, was detained in October 2014 after wearing a black T-shirt and holding a banner on a Guangzhou street in support of the 79-day Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.
He entered the courtroom for the sentencing hearing on shouting "Build a democratic China!" and "Down with the Communist Party!"
The Occupy Central, or Umbrella Movement campaigned for Beijing to withdraw an Aug, 31, 2014 electoral reform plan, which it rejected as "fake universal suffrage," and to allow publicly nominated candidates to run for chief executive in 2017.
The plan, which offered a one-person, one-vote in 2017 elections for chief executive, but required candidates to be vetted by Beijing, was voted down on June 18, 2015 by 28 votes to eight in Hong Kong's Legislative Council, leaving the city with its existing voting arrangements still in place.
Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Jia Ao for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.