Reports came late last week that Chinese lawyer and activist Xu Zhiyong (许志永) has been detained in Beijing. Xu is one of several bloggers featured in CMP’s 2009 book China’s Bold Bloggers (中国猛博), to have been sought by authorities in recent months as China’s security police have intensified surveillance and intimidation of writers and activists.
Xu was detained back in 2009, but later released after an international backlash. The charge leveled against Xu two years ago was back taxes allegedly owed by his legal advocacy group, the Open Constitution Initiative, or “Gongmeng,” which stopped operating in August 2009.
In this July 2009 piece, CMP Director Qian Gang wrote about the pitfalls facing many NGOs and advocacy organizations in China, which often exist in a grey zone where they are vulnerable to charges of “economic crimes” when such charges suit the expedient goals of authorities. This related post also provides good background into this issue.