China Jails Online Dissident Before Probation: Rights Group

BEIJING ~ A prominent Chinese online dissident has been jailed shortly before the end of a four-year probation period, two rights organizations said this week.

Du Daobin, an activist from central China’s Hubei province, was imprisoned on Monday, just ahead of the August 4 expiry of his probation period, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

“The Du Daobin case is a classic example of the authorities’ stepped-up crackdown on dissidents ahead of the (Beijing) Olympics,” the centre said in a statement.

Chinese dissidents say many people have been detained or intimidated as part of a broad crackdown by China’s communist rulers to silence critics ahead of the Olympic Games that begin on August 8.

A court in the Hubei city of Xiaogan convicted Du of subversion in June 2004 for posting 26 essays on the Internet that contained varying degrees of anti-government content.

He was sentenced to three years in jail, a sentence that was upheld on appeal.

Officials at the court were not immediately available for comment.

The Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of rights advocates, said half a dozen security officers took Du away from his workplace Monday at about noon, while also searching his home, confiscating two computers and some letters.

“Police alleged that, while on probation, Du published more than a hundred essays on overseas websites, failed to report to the police regularly and did not notify the police when he travelled outside of his home town and when he hosted guests at home,” the group said.

The group said police did not present any court documents when carrying Du away, apparently violating local rules, and also failed to notify his family of where he was being held or how he could be contacted.

Du’s October 2003 arrest prompted more than 100 Chinese intellectuals to sign a petition calling for his release and demanding official clarification of exactly what activities constituted “incitement to subvert state power.”

One of the most high profile activists to have been jailed ahead of the Olympics is Hu Jia, who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after a one-day trial in April on charges of inciting subversion.

In a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, Amnesty International called earlier this month for improved human rights in China ahead of the Games, including the release of political prisoners.

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