Dissident Watched on Release

Chinese authorities are keeping a close watch on a writer recently released from prison.

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Zhanglin-boxun-280.jpg Chinese writer and dissident Zhang Lin, photographed with his son.
Photo: Boxun
HONG KONG—A prominent Chinese writer from the eastern province of Anhui is still living under close surveillance by the authorities following his release from a five-year jail term for "incitement to subversion."

Zhang Lin, who was jailed by a court in Anhui's Bengbu city in 2005 after he posted material critical of the ruling Communist Party online and tried to visit the home of ousted former premier Zhao Ziyang, said he had been told by police that he could be detained again at any time.

"They specifically told me not to go out for a while, because I had previously given interviews to reporters," Zhang said.

"They said...that the warrant for my detention was all ready, and all it needed was a signature, and I could be taken back to the detention center at any time."

"So they told me...that I should stay home and keep a low profile."

Undercover attention

Zhang said he was recently followed by plainclothes national security officers on a recent visit to a jail in the northern city of Tianjin, a trip he made to visit jailed dissident Yang Tianshui.

"The cars they drive don't usually have license plates," Zhang said.

"Especially the ones from my hometown. They don't have license plates front or back. Only they would be able to get away with this. Anyone else driving such a car would immediately get pulled over by the traffic cops."

"There's an old lady of 80 or more whom I see cross my path every day," he said, in reference to under-cover surveillance of his daily routine.

"Every day when I see her I nod to her and say hello. Sometimes she nods back, and sometimes she turns away, embarrassed. She knows, and I know, what is going on."

Sentenced for criticism

Zhang, 46, a graduate of Beijing's prestigious Qinghua University, was sentenced to five years on July 28, 2005 for "inciting subversion" via a radio interview and six articles critical of China's Communist regime which he posted on overseas dissident Web sites.

Zhang previously served a sentence of two years following his involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square.

Authorities detained Zhang on Jan. 29, 2005 in Anhui on his return from Beijing.

Zhang had tried unsuccessfully to pay his respects to former Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who was ousted after opposing the use of force against protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Zhao died at his Beijing home on Jan. 17 after 15 years under house arrest.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Tang Qiwei. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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