Sun, Mar 20, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Chinese dissident arrested following mourning attempt

AFP , BEIJING

China has formally arrested a dissident who traveled to Beijing to mourn the death of deposed leader Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽), more than a month after he was detained, his wife said yesterday.

Police authorities informed Zhang Lin's wife, Fang Caofang, early yesterday that he had been charged for "allegedly inciting the subversion of state power," she said.

Zhang has been detained since Jan. 29, when he and fellow dissident Wang Tingjin were picked up by police at the train station in his home city of Bengbu in Anhui Province on their return from Beijing.

The pair had earlier tried to go the capital to pay their respects to Zhao but their request to attend his funeral was rejected by the funeral committee set up by the Communist Party.

authorities angered

Police are yet to release further details about the charges, although Fang said she believed his visit to Beijing angered authorities because they had earlier warned him not to make the trip.

Zhang, 42, is a core member of a newly formed committee set up by prominent dissidents to honor the memory of Zhao.

His political writing published on the Internet, much of which criticizes the communist regime, is also likely to have led to his arrest, she said.

If convicted, Zhang is likely to be imprisoned for at least five years, lawyers told Fang.

"I nearly collapsed when I heard about this, this is too much to bear," Fang said.

"My daughter is only two and she has been asking me every day where daddy has gone," she said.

denial

An official at the Bengbu No.1 Detention Center, at which Fang said Zhang was being kept, denied Zhang was there.

An official at the Bengbu city police said he had no knowledge of Zhang.

Zhang had previously been imprisoned for a total of eight years in China's "Re-education through Labor" network for taking part in pro-democracy activities.

Zhao died on Jan. 17 aged 85 and was cremated in a government-controlled ceremony in Beijing amid authorities' nervousness that the popular leader's death might spark off protests.

The former premier and communist party secretary general, who helped launched China's market reforms in the 1980s, was purged in 1989 after he opposed the decision by hardline elements in the leadership to use force against pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.

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