Chinese state media says a leading dissident, Liu
Xiaob, has been formally arrested on charges of carrying out activities aimed at
overthrowing China's socialist system. He had has been in police custody since
the end of last year.
Police took Liu Xiaobo away on December 8, on day
before the public release of a manifesto - called Charter 08 - which called for
sweeping reforms to China's rigid political system. He was among more than 300
Chinese intellectuals who signed Charter 08. The document called for a new
constitution guaranteeing human rights, election of public officials, freedom of
religion and expression and an end to the Communist Party's hold over the
military, courts and government.
Liu helped draft and revised the
document. His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, has said he believes police detained Liu a
day ahead of the manifesto's release because they considered him a key
China's official Xinhua News Agency quotes a Beijing police
statement as saying Liu is charged with agitation activities aimed at subverting
the state and overthrowing the socialist system. The statement also accuses him
of spreading rumors and defaming the government.
is a former university professor. In his writings, he has called for civil
rights and political reform.
In an interview with AP Television last
July, Liu urged the Chinese government to provide a legitimate way for Chinese
people to protest.
Liu says, if the government does not set up places to
protest, then it will have to face the prospect of protests happening at any
time, anywhere, without any control - especially in what he describes as
sensitive areas. He says the government knows it will be bad for China's image
to crack down violently on protests.
Liu had spent 20 months in jail for
joining the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square. In the 1990's, he
also spent three years in a labor camp and eight months under virtual house