State prosecutors in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have sent back the subversion case against women's rights activist Su Changlan, who publicly supported Hong Kong's Occupy Central pro-democracy movement, her lawyer said.
"The authorities have sent the case back [to police] for further investigation," Su's lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan told RFA.
"After that, there's a maximum time-limit of one month before the case must be resubmitted to the procuratorate [state prosecution service]," he said.
"The reason they gave was that there is insufficient evidence [against Su Changlan]," Liu said, adding that the authorities could simply be using the legal process to drag out Su's detention.
"Sometimes, in cases like these, the authorities use due legal process to drag things out for longer," he said.
"Another way of looking at it is that they think there are holes in this case."
'Incitement to subvert'
Su was detained last October by police in Guandong's Foshan city on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power" after she took part in activities supporting Hong Kong's Occupy Central pro-democracy movement, which state media described as an illegal protest backed by "hostile foreign forces."
Once a volunteer for the New York-based Women's Rights in China group, Su is in poor health, amid concerns from her family that she is being neglected while in the police-run detention center.
Su's husband Chen Dequan told RFA that he is concerned over his wife's health problems, which may have worsened since her detention began.
"She suffers from intermittent cardiac standstill and hyperthyroidism," Chen said. "Her hands shake and her eyes water."
"She was under constant medical care before her arrest, but since then, she has had no medication, and she is getting sicker and sicker," he said.
"I am very worried about her right now, but I can't go and enquire after her, nor can I visit her," Chen said. "I'm afraid that one day her heart will just stop, and she'll be gone."
He said Su's treatment in detention has been "substandard."
"She can't get enough to eat, and she's not sleeping well, with seven or eight people in a cell together," Chen said. "This is how they are mistreating her."
Chen has previously applied to Foshan police under freedom of information laws to get detailed information about his wife's condition, and also to answer allegations that she was forced into "confessing" her guilt.
But police have refused the request, saying it doesn't involve "government information."
Elsewhere in Guangdong, rights activist Liu Shaoming has been criminally detained on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," his lawyer said on Friday.
Liu's lawyer Ge Yongxi said the authorities refused him permission to meet with his client in detention, sending him to a different department for permission.
"I want to stress that it's illegal for the detention center to use such tactics to deny a meeting with a lawyer," Ge said.
Liu, 57, was criminally detained on May 30 on suspicion of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," a charge frequently used by police to target dissidents and rights activists.
He is currently being held in the Huadu District Detention Center in Guangdong's provincial capital, Guangzhou.
Lawyers say Liu's detention could be linked to his connections with other local activists like rights lawyer Ge Wenxiu and political activist Li Biyun.
Liu had been active in a number of industrial disputes in recent years, including speaking out on behalf of cleaners at Guangzhou's University City, striking workers at the Xinsheng Shoe Factory, and many others, he said.
Pressure on groups
The detentions come as Beijing moves to intensify pressure on civil society groups, which include those campaigning for the rights of women, migrant workers, consumers, students in education, sex workers, and those with disabilities and diseases.
Under a draft Overseas NGO Management Law currently under discussion, police will be given vastly expanded powers governing the operations of overseas nonprofit organizations in China, particularly in terms of funding Chinese NGOs, rights groups say.
The draft law’s provisions would affect all international nonprofits, including schools, hospitals, churches, charities, and sports clubs, and include groups based in Hong Kong and Macau.
Authorities will also be able to block Chinese organizations from receiving funding from overseas NGOs that have not registered inside the country or who haven't received a permit from police.
Reported by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service, and by Pan Jiaqing and Wei Ling for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.