Veteran activist held for 'promoting terrorism'

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 11 Jul 2019

A Chinese anti-corruption activist who had urged officials to disclose their wealth was arrested for allegedly "promoting terrorism," as Beijing clamps down on Communist Party critics.

Zhang Baocheng, 60, was a member of the now-defunct New Citizens Movement, which campaigned for democracy and government transparency.

It is unusual for members of civil society or human rights activists to be accused of terrorism, and his wife said she fears it suggests Zhang might receive a heavy prison sentence.

Zhang was given a two-year prison term in 2014 for "disrupting public order" after holding a banner in a crowded shopping area in Beijing urging officials to disclose their assets as a check against corruption.

He has continued to be a vocal critic of the Communist Party even after the movement was suppressed and at least 20 of its members were detained in a year-long crackdown starting in 2013.

But what led to his latest arrest is unclear.

Zhang was arrested by Beijing police on July 4, suspected of "picking quarrels, promoting terrorism, extremism, and inciting terrorism," according to an arrest warrant shared by his wife, Liu Juefan.

"After his release from prison he never stopped fighting, so they are now using this charge of terrorism and extremism to condemn him to a heavy sentence," Liu said on the phone from New York.

"Since his arrest, I have not been able to reach him, but his lawyer has met him twice," she said, adding that her husband "has been framed."

Zhang's arrest comes over a month after he was detained on May 28 - days before the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4.

Zhang was also detained for more than a month in 2016 for taking part in a private commemoration of Tiananmen.

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