High-profile Chinese dissident is indicted

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2009 5:13 AM

A high-profile dissident who has called for political reform in China has been indicted on subversion charges and will likely be tried within four to six weeks, his lawyer said Friday.

Liu Xiaobo, 53, is a literary critic and former university professor who spent 20 months in jail for joining the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square. He was detained in December.

Lawyer Shang Baojun said prosecutors informed him Friday that Liu will be tried on the charge of inciting subversion of state power. The vaguely worded charge is routinely used in China to jail dissidents and carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Shang said the indictment cites as evidence six articles on political reform that Liu published on overseas Web sites since 2005 and also an appeal he co-authored that calls for sweeping political reforms, known as Charter 08.

The charter demands a new constitution guaranteeing human rights, the open election of public officials, and freedom of religion and expression. It also calls for the abolition of the criminal code that allows people to be imprisoned for inciting subversion _ the crime Liu is charged with.

Some 10,000 people have signed the charter since it was made public a year ago, though a news blackout and Internet censorship have left most Chinese unaware that it exists.

There have been numerous international efforts to secure Liu's release since he was detained on Dec. 8, 2008, including an appeal signed by dozens of scholars and literary luminaries including Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer and Wole Soyinka.

Shang said he hopes to visit Liu in prison Monday to discuss his case.