Liu Xiaobo Formally Arrested for “Inciting Subversion of State Power”

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Liu Xiaobo Formally Arrested for “Inciting Subversion of State Power”

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders—June 24, 2009) – CHRD learned today that Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), signatory of Charter 08 and prominent intellectual, was formally arrested for “inciting subversion of state power” on June 23. He had been detained since December 8, 2008.

Police from the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) National Security Unit delivered Liu Xiaobo’s formal arrest notice dated June 23 to his wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), at about 11 am today. The police also told Liu Xia that Mo Shaoping (莫少平), one of the best-known human rights lawyers in China, cannot represent Liu Xiaobo, even though Liu Xia had retained Mo and Shang Baojun (尚宝军), a lawyer from the Mo Shaoping Law Firm, to be Liu Xiaobo’s defense lawyers. According to the authorities, Mo cannot be Liu Xiaobo’s lawyer because he is also a signatory of Charter 08. Liu Xiaobo’s detention and arrest are believed to be related to the authorities’ suspicions that he drafted Charter 08 and organized the collection of signatures.

“We expected that Liu would be formally charged eventually,” said Mo. “I will fight the decision to bar me from representing Mo in accordance with the law.”

Liu Xiaobo is currently being subjected to “residential surveillance” (jianshi juzhu), a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing. Liu has been barred from contacting the outside world except for two meetings with his wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), arranged by authorities, on January 1 and March 20 in Xiaotangshan, Changping District, Beijing.

Now that Liu Xiaobo has been formally arrested, he is expected to be transferred to a detention center.

The crime ofinciting subversion of state power” is stipulated under Article 105(2) of the Chinese Criminal Code. If convicted, Liu faces a maximum of fifteen years of fixed-term imprisonment. Since its adoption in 1997, article 105(2) has been regularly used by the authorities to criminalize freedom of expression. CHRD has documented dozens of cases of dissidents and freespeech activists persecuted under this law in recent years, including 2008 Sakharov Prize winner, Hu Jia (胡佳), who is currently serving a sentence of three and a half years in prison. For more information, please see CHRD’s January 2008 report, “Inciting Subversion of State Power’: A Legal Tool for Prosecuting Free Speech in China.”

Charter 08 is a manifesto calling for bold reforms promoting democracy and human rights in China. It was published on December 9, 2008, one day after Liu Xiabo’s detention. It initially had over 303 signatories and now has more than 8,000. Over a hundred signatories have been harassed, intimidated and persecuted by the authorities in connection with Charter 08.

Media contacts for this press release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +13015479286
Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +85281911660

For more information, please see:

Lawyer for Liu Xiaobo Submits Formal Request Demanding Details of Activist’s Detention (February 11, 2009)

Over One Hundred Signatories Harassed Since Launch of Charter 08 (January 8, 2009),

Liu Xiaobo under Residential Surveillance at Undisclosed Location (January 2, 2009),

Police Summon Beijing Intellectual Zhang Zuhua, China Continues Crackdown on Charter 08 (December 29, 2008),

Crackdown on Charter 08 Widens as More Activists are Interrogated and Intimidated (December 16, 2008),

CHRD, “Chinese Government Responds with a Crackdown on Activists for Commemorating 60th Anniversary of UDHR”, December 9, 2008,

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