Chinese police have detained a lawyer who sought to visit a prominent activist taken into custody this week, a Beijing-based dissident and overseas rights groups said yesterday.
Liu Weiguo (劉衛國) was taken away in the capital while trying to see his client Xu Zhiyong (許志永), a professor who had urged the release of activists seeking asset disclosure by government officials.
“Since the afternoon the lawyer Liu Weiguo has had his personal freedom restricted,” Beijing-based dissident Hu Jia (胡佳) said on Twitter late on Thursday.
Liu was later told he did “not meet the qualifications to act as a defense lawyer,” Hu tweeted yesterday.
Xu was detained on Tuesday for “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order,” the US-based group Human Rights in China said. Police have also held Xu supporters who tried to leave money for him at the detention center, the group said.
Altogether 25 activists, lawyers, and other people have been detained since February for criticizing official corruption and “promoting other politically ‘sensitive’ goals,” the group added.
The arrests come as China’s new leaders, who took office in March, have vowed to crack down on corruption within the ruling Chinese Communist party.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has warned graft could destroy the party and that offenders would receive no leniency.
Rooting out corruption would require taking on vested interests and analysts are doubtful how far the campaign will reach.