HONG KONG—A prominent Beijing-based civil rights lawyer who recently testified on Chinese human rights abuses before the U.S. Congress is being followed by police, according to his wife.
Jiang Tianyong, who also spoke while in the United States on Charter '08, a controversial political document calling for widespread reforms and curbs on the power of the ruling Communist Party, had moved apartments recently to avoid police, his wife said.
"There is a young man always hovering around our office," Jin Bianling said.
"Yesterday I found out that he was actually sent by police to monitor our activities."
Jin said the man had denied following her, but later admitted to her husband that he was "doing his duty."
"On the street, the man even tried to stop Jiang Tianyong from leaving by blocking the way of a cab Jiang had called," she added.
"But the cab managed to leave."
Police have recently tightened surveillance on several prominent Chinese rights lawyers in the capital, as some mark the fifth anniversary of the death of ousted Communist Party boss Zhao Ziyang
The deputy chief of the local police station, Xia Yuxiang, denied any security operation around Jiang.
"I don't know what you are talking about," Xia said.
Jin said the number of visits to her husband's office had risen since the couple had fled their old apartment.
"There were suddenly more visitors frequenting Jiang Tianyong’s office, pretending to obtain information on the number of people who will stay overnight in the office building, or on the seasonal flu," Jin said.
"This is nothing but police harassment," said Jin, who said she believes her phone calls are also being tapped.
Two other civil rights lawyers in Beijing said they had also been watched or followed in recent days
"Police followed me from last Saturday, and they stopped doing so today," lawyer Li Fangping said.
Several lawyers watched
Another rights lawyer, Li Heping, said two people appeared to be stationed outside his Beijing home Tuesday.
"Now, there are two people monitoring me in front of our residence. But when I go out they don’t follow me," Li said. "I don’t know what their purpose is."
Mourners from all over China flocked to the Beijing home of reformer Zhao Ziyang over the weekend in hope of paying their respects on the fifth anniversary of the former leader's death.
Zhao, a former general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, fell from power at the height of the student-led pro-democracy movement in the early summer of 1989.
While his death went unnoticed by many in China, a number of ordinary people with grievances against the government converged on the alleyway where Zhao spent nearly two decades under house arrest until his death on Jan. 17, 2005.
Zhao's posthumous memoir, titled in English Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang, went on sale last year to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the June 4 military crackdown—which Zhao opposed at the cost of his political career and personal freedom.
Several prominent rights activists and dissidents said they were visited by national security police ahead of the anniversary and were warned against attending memorial events.
Original reporting in Mandarin by Fang Yuan. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated by Chen Ping. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.