Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hubei are holding a prominent cyberdissident under criminal detention on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," his lawyer said on Thursday.
Du Daobin, 50, one of China’s best-known cyberdissidents, was taken away on Wednesday by police, who also searched his Beijing home and confiscated his computer and written materials, his lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said.
"The head of police and the head of the state security police branch from his hometown came to Beijing on Wednesday and told him to meet them at the international airport," Liu said.
"His son told me that they got a call from the Beijing state security police [on Wednesday] morning to say that his father had been detained for 'picking quarrels'," he added.
Du is currently being held in the Beijing No. 1 municipal detention center, and was able to speak briefly with his son by phone, Liu said.
Sentenced for subversion
In June 2004, a court in Hubei’s Xiaogan city handed Du a suspended sentence of three years in prison on charges of inciting subversion. He was confined to his home.
Du was initially arrested in October 2003 after publishing online articles overseas denouncing the crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement and calling for political reforms.
In July 2008, authorities said Du had violated the terms of his suspended sentence after he published articles on overseas-based websites and sent him to jail, where he remained until 2010.
While in prison he was forbidden access to foreign books, according to his wife, Xia Chunrong.
Liu said this latest detention was likely linked to recent posts made by Du on social media sites.
"I think it's likely to be linked to microblog posts, because there have been cases in the past where people have been accused of 'picking quarrels' on microblog services," he said.
"I remember, back in 2011, they called me in for questioning after I posted a tweet looking for Shanghai lawyer Li Tiantian, who was detained ... and told me I was picking quarrels and stirring up trouble."
Liu said he expected to be able to meet with Du in the next couple of days.
"His son has instructed me to act as his lawyer," he said.
June 4 detentions
The news of Du's detention came as large numbers of dissidents and rights activists were released from surveillance and house arrest following the 24th anniversary of the June 4 military crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy protests of 1989.
Meanwhile, authorities in the eastern province of Jiangxi detained anti-corruption activist Liu Ping, who was initially detained on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," on less serious charges of "illegal assembly," her daughter said on Thursday.
"It's illegal assembly," Liu Ping's daughter Liao Minyue said. "[They changed it on] June 4."
"I haven't received a formal notification yet, as they've just sent it out, and I probably won't get it for another couple of days," Liao said.
"She has now been formally detained ... and she is allowed to see a lawyer, and lawyer Zhang Xuezhong has said he will set out to see her next Wednesday," she added.
She said the charges show the authorities wish to "exert pressure" on her activist mother.
"This charge is less serious than the previous one, but I'm still not very optimistic about this one either," Liao said.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.