Chinese writer held on vague subversion charge

New York, October 2, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the recent arrest of freelance writer Lü Gengsong on subversion charges and calls for his immediate release.

Lü’s wife, Wang Xue’e, received notice on Sunday of her husband’s arrest on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” according to Chinese human rights groups and news reports. The notice.from the Hangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) was dated Saturday. The arrest appears to be linked to Lü’s recent online writings on a variety of political topics.

“We know well from past experience that when China resorts to vague charges like ‘inciting subversion of state power’ it has no case against a journalist, and is only using the legal system to punish journalists for writing about topics the authorities can’t abide,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “We call on the authorities to drop the charges immediately.”

Lü was detained on August 24, 2007, when police summoned him for questioning at the local precinct. Soon after Lü was detained, Public Security officers searched Lü’s home for several hours, confiscating his computer hard drive and files. On the same day, PSB officers delivered a notice of Lü’s “criminal detention” to Wang Xue’e. Lü is being held at the Xihu (West Lake) Detention Center in Hangzhou.

Wang, who was also detained for questioning for three hours, has said that police told her that Lü was detained because his articles “attacked the Communist Party.” After Lü’s detention, three of his friends went to the police station to demand his release and were told by officers that Lü would be released if he displayed the “correct attitude” and “admitted that all the articles he has written are erroneous,” the China-based human rights group Minsheng Guancha reported.

Lü, a freelance writer, is author of a book published in Hong Kong titled “Corruption in the Communist Party of China.” His recent articles, which have been published on overseas Web sites, have tackled topics such as corruption, land expropriation, organized crime, and human rights abuses. Lü is also a political activist and a member of the banned China Democracy Party. The day before his arrest, he had attended the trial of Yang Yunbiao, an activist who had protested housing evictions, and had reported Yang’s two-year sentence to human rights groups and the media.

After Lü’s arrest, more than 1,000 writers and activists in China signed a petition demanding his release.