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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China accuses pro-democracy activist Liu Xiabo of inciting a rebellion

June 25, 2009

Liu Xiaobo, one of China's most famous pro-democracy advocates, has been charged with trying to subvert Communist Party rule.


By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai


24 Jun 2009


After being held for seven months in a secret jail, Mr Liu, 53, was formally arrested for "alleged agitation activities aimed at subversion of government and overthrowing of the socialist system", according to Xinhua, the state news agency.


It added that Mr Liu had been "spreading rumours and defaming the government" and that he had "confessed to the charge in preliminary police investigation".


The crime of inciting a subversion can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, according to Mr Liu's lawyer, Mo Shaoping.


Mr Liu has been held in a secret prison somewhere in Beijing since last December. In one of two meetings with his wife since the beginning of the year, he told her he was being held in a small room with no windows.


He was arrested one day before releasing Charter 08, a petition calling for the end of one-party rule in China and the establishment of a multi-party democracy.


Charter 08 was initially signed by 300 lawyers, intellectuals and dissidents. It won widespread praise overseas, and has unsettled the Communist Party at home. As many as 8,000 people have come forward to sign it, despite the risks of publicly supporting such a document.


Liu's wife, Liu Xia, is under constant surveillance and the police have built a guardhouse outside her Beijing apartment.


The charges bring Mr Liu one step closer to trial and his lawyer said it was a "breakthrough" that Mr Liu's period of silent confinement was at an end.


"It is too early to say what sort of defence we will adopt at trial," he said. "The act of subversion involves writing articles or giving interviews and speaking freely. Liu has confessed to this in the past."


He added that the authorities had already broken the law by holding Mr Liu for seven months in a secret jail, saying that he should have been allowed to remain under house arrest. "The way he has been held so far is a complete breach of the law."


Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the United States Congress, said she had directly petitioned Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, for Mr Liu's release.


Mr Liu spent two years in prison after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, and three years in a labour camp from 1996 for challenging single-party rule and advocating negotiations with the Dalai Lama over Tibet.

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