Chinese police have filed subversion charges against another human rights activist, the man's wife said Wednesday, the latest move against dissent since anonymous online calls urged Chinese to imitate pro-democracy protests in North Africa and the Middle East.
Though the calls for demonstrations every Sunday have not drawn any overt protesters, the authoritarian government has reacted strongly. Human rights groups say more than 100 bloggers, lawyers and activists have been detained.
Also, several prominent people, including civil rights lawyers have disappeared, a tactic that has increasingly been used to silence government critics. Friends say a Chinese-born Australian novelist disappeared in China this week and they fear he is being held by secret police.
The wife of activist Chen Wei, Wang Xiaoyan, said she received a notice Tuesday morning saying her husband had been formally arrested by police in Suining city in southwestern Sichuan province for "inciting subversion of state power." Activists say Chen was detained in February for reposting the calls for protests on the Internet.
Phone calls to the police rang unanswered Wednesday.
China often uses the vaguely worded charge of inciting subversion of state power to lock up outspoken government critics.
Chen is the third person known to be formally indicted for subversion in the latest crackdown _ and all have been in Sichuan.
Earlier this week, the wife of blogger and writer Ran Yunfei said she had received a notice saying subversion charges had been filed against him. Before being taken away last month, Ran wrote online for more than a decade, frequently criticizing government policies and calling for tolerance for dissenting views.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders said the other charged was dissident Ding Mao. The Hong Kong-based rights group said Ding was a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests and was twice before jailed for his activism, for a total of 10 years.
The missing Australian is Yang Hengjun, a Sydney-based spy novelist who writes a blog that discusses issues sensitive to Beijing, criticizing the widespread government corruption and wealth gap that have accompanied China's rapid growth.
Friends said he disappeared this week in Guangzhou after he complained of being followed. They fear he is in the custody of secret police.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Wednesday that the senior Australian envoy in Guangzhou was "urgently seeking to confirm the man's whereabouts and well-being." China's Foreign Ministry has said it has no information on Yang.
His friend Feng Chongyi, an associate professor in China Studies at the University of Technology in Sydney, said one of his students in Guangzhou was able to phone Yang on Wednesday. Yang told the student he was in a hospital but was healthy and had been out of contact because his cellphone ran out of power.
Feng said he suspects Yang is actually being held by police, noting that he had earlier phoned his sister to give a prearranged signal that meant he had been detained.
Yang, 46, was an official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry before moving to Australia.