July 23, 2008 / 2:08 AM / 10 years ago

China arrests cyber dissident, rights group says

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have arrested a prominent Internet dissident for violating his probation terms, accusing him of posting articles on overseas websites and receiving guests without permission, a rights group said.

China has been cracking down on dissent in the run-up to next month’s Beijing Olympics, fearing any unrest could embarrass the country while the world is watching.

Du Daobin, from the central province of Hebei, was given a suspended sentence for subversion in 2004 having been detained by police in Wuhan for posting online essays in support of fellow dissident, Liu Di.

Du was then released into house arrest, Reporters Without Borders said in an emailed statement, but was arrested this week.

“Du was living under a permanent threat,” the group said. “He could have been imprisoned at any time under the sentence he received more than four years ago. He is the third leading cyber-dissident to be imprisoned in the run-up to the Olympic Games, after Hu Jia and Huang Qi.”

Chinese police arrested Huang in the country’s southwest for “possession of state secrets” after he offered help to parents of children killed in the Sichuan earthquake in May.

Hu, a prominent AIDS activist, was jailed for 3-½ years earlier this year for inciting subversion and criticising the ruling Communist Party.

“The Chinese authorities fear the influence of these Internet users and find it increasingly difficult to rein them in. We call for Du’s release and the withdrawal of the charges against him,” Reporters Without Border said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard

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