Police arrested Chen in Sichuan province shortly after he was involved in a “strolling” nonviolent protest against a proposed petrochemical plant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, according to English- and Chinese-language news reports.
In November 2008, he was found guilty of inciting subversion against the state, according to international news reports. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutors introduced three articles by Chen to demonstrate a purportedly anti-government stance, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. In one piece, an article for the Hong Kong-based political magazine Zheng Ming, Chen portrayed antigovernment protests in Tibet in a positive light. That article, first published in April 2008, was reposted on overseas websites. He also published an online article objecting to the Chengdu project, but it was not among the articles cited by the prosecution.