HONG KONG—Authorities in the eastern city of Nanjing have formally arrested a prominent blogger who tried to set up an opposition party on charges of "subversion of state power," his wife said.
Former university professor Guo Quan was detained Nov. 13 by police near his Nanjing home, and his wife Li Jing said she received formal notification of the charges against him Friday.
"They told me on Friday that he had been formally arrested, but they didn't give me any details," Li said. "They gave a bunch of documents to his mother."
I think they are afraid that if they give me all the documents, that I will send them to outside parties."
"He is being formally arrested on the same charge they detained him on, that of subverting state power... If they can make it stand up, then it's pretty serious. It can lead to sentences of at least 10 years in jail."
Li said the authorities had prevented Guo from seeing a lawyer, citing reasons of national security.
Li said the police were treating Guo's mother as next-of-kin, in spite of the couple's married relationship.
Millions of members claimed
"I think it's because she is older and has a different view of things," Li said. "Also, I can get online more easily and I think they are afraid that if they give me all the documents, that I will send them to outside parties."
Guo's arrest has sparked a wider investigation into an opposition party he claimed had 10 million members among the country's most disgruntled citizens.
Police have questioned rights activists whom they believe might have information about the opposition New People's Party, which Guo founded Dec. 17 to represent anyone petitioning the government and the ruling Communist Party for social justice in land disputes, forced evictions, and allegations of official wrongdoing.
Guo was fired from Nanjing Normal University on Dec. 6 last year for allegedly violating its constitution and rules on the conduct of faculty.
On Dec. 14, 2007, he was expelled from the Communist-approved token opposition group Democratic Parties and Factions, and on Dec. 17 last year announced the founding of the New People's Party, with himself as chairman.
The main focus of the party was petitioners, and Guo claimed a membership of 10 million dispossessed ordinary people, including petitioners and former military personnel.
At the time, he wrote that the party's platform was to represent ordinary people and to stand for a multiparty political system, including social welfare benefits and private property rights protection.
Afterwards, Guo updated his "Cutting Edge of Democracy" Web site almost daily, with a total of 347 articles posted by the time it was closed by the authorities.
The last known attempt by Chinese political activists to set up an opposition party ended in December 1998 with the sentencing of China Democracy Party (CDP) founders to lengthy jail terms.
Zhejiang dissident Wang Youcai, Wuhan-based Qin Yongmin, and Beijing-based Xu Wenli were sentenced respectively to 11, 12, and 13 years in prison on charges of “instigation to subvert state power."
Original reporting in Mandarin by Shi Shan. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.