New York, December 11, 2008--The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern for the welfare of prominent activist and writer Liu Xiaobo, who has not been heard from since authorities detained him in Beijing on Monday, according to his wife and lawyer.
National security officials in
Liu's wife, Liu Xia, told CPJ in a telephone interview this
morning that she did not know her husband's whereabouts, and had not been
officially informed of the reason for his arrest. The interview was interrupted
twice when the phone connection was unexpectedly cut. Police are required to
provide written notification of the reason for a detention within 24 hours, according
Liu has been detained
in the past for his writing. Zhang Yu, a Chinese PEN representative, told CPJ
that Liu has written numerous articles on issues that often prompt official
Zhang was questioned about the charter and released after about 12 hours, Mo said. Zhang was not available for comment when CPJ called his house this morning, and repeated calls afterward did not go through.
Other signatories to the charter--a group that encompasses officials,
media professionals, and academics as well as dissidents--have been questioned,
according to Human Rights Watch. But it was not clear why Zhang and Liu had apparently
been singled out for detention after putting their names on the document, which
calls for an end to one-party rule and legal reform to protect human rights. Mo
Shaoping--who also signed the document--said the authorities may suspect that the
two were among the key organizers. An English translation of the
charter is available on the Web site of The
Liu, a former
Chinese authorities have used extracts from published articles as a reason to imprison critics in the past. In a June interview published in Falling Short, a CPJ report on media in China in the run-up to the Olympic Games, Mo Shaoping said that freelance journalist Lü Gengsong's four-year sentence for inciting subversion of state power, handed down in February, was based on extracts selected from 19 "problematic" essays, from a total output of more than 200. Activist Hu Jia, a prolific writer, received a three and a half year sentence in April--also for subversion--for six essays published online and two interviews with foreign media outlets.