Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan have formally arrested a blogger who compiled detailed lists of protests and his girlfriend, on public order charges, rights groups said.
Lu Yuyu, who ran a blog under the social media handle @wickedonnaa, and his girlfriend Li Tingyu, are now under formal arrest in Yunnan's Dali city, on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," the Weiquanwang rights website reported.
Lu had compiled meticulous, daily lists of "mass incidents" like protests and riots that are largely ignored in the country's tightly controlled state media, making the results public via Google, Twitter and Weibo.
"I got a phone call from the Dali state prosecutors, who said that Lu Yuyu's formal arrest had now been approved," Lu's defense lawyer Xiao Yunyang told RFA on Friday. "I will be making arrangements to meet with him soon."
Li, who was forced to drop out of a translation and interpretation degree at Guangzhou's prestigious Zhongshan University after publishing articles out of the reach of Chinese government internet censors, was also formally arrested on the same charges at the same time, Xiao said.
Her defense attorney Huang Simin told RFA earlier this month that he held out little hope she would be released on bail.
Li had already been targeted for "chats" with China's state security police, and withdrew from her university amid huge political pressure on the university and on her family, Weiquanwang said.
Lu has been previously detained for short periods in Shanghai and Guangzhou for "illegal assembly," and began compiling statistics of public protests and unrest in October 2012.
'Not the News'
A former migrant worker, Lu called his online operation "Not the News," in a nod to the widespread censorship of "sensitive" stories of mass protests by the ruling Chinese Communist Party and the media outlets under its control.
Activists have said the sort of data Lu compiled, which last year including details of more than 30,000 "mass incidents" not widely reported in China, could easily have made him a target.
Fellow activist Wang Fazhan said in an interview on July 13 that he didn't believe Lu had committed any crimes, however.
"I used to read his posts regularly online," Wang said. "All he did was report the news in an objective manner."
"There was nothing criminal about it, so if the government's treating him in this way, I think it's because they are trying to cover up the truth."
"Usually, any news of mass incidents gets suppressed in mainland China, and there is usually an information blackout imposed," he said.
Dali-based independent author Xu Hui said he had been to inquire after the couple at the Dali Detention Center, but officials had declined to give out any information.
"Today marks the 37th day of their detention," Xu said. "They had to either release them or arrest them."
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.