Chinese Police Formally Arrest Another Rights Dissident

October 2, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: October 2, 2006 12:00 am

BEIJING—Chinese human rights activist Yang Maodong was formally arrested and charged with illegal business activities, two weeks after police took him from his home in the southern province of Guangdong, his wife said on Monday.

Yang, who also uses the pen name Guo Feixiong, was heavily involved in publicising rural protests in Guangdong last year, and is close to other Chinese human rights activists.

Yang's wife said she had been summoned to police offices on Saturday and given a paper, dated Sept. 28, confirming his arrest. Yang had been deprived of sleep for several days after being seized from the family's apartment on Sept. 14, but had since been allowed to see his lawyers, she said.

Chinese law allows people to be detained without charge before being formally arrested.

No court date has yet been set. The maximum sentence for the charge of illegal business activities is five years, but for “serious” cases the sentence can be higher, said a lawyer familiar with the case.

Yang was held for more than three months late last year for trying to help residents of the Guangdong village of Taishi to vote out their elected chief over allegations of corruption in a land sale.

Earlier this year, he was briefly detained for attempting to organise a hunger strike to protest against his beating by thugs in the provincial capital, Guangzhou.

Other Chinese rights activists have recently been placed under house arrest, detained or otherwise harassed as the government tries to keep a lid on their activities.