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Writer and PEN officer Zhao Shiying detained

(PEN American Center/IFEX) - New York City, January 14, 2010 - PEN American Center today condemned the detention of Zhao Shiying, Secretary General of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), who was taken from his home and had his personal computers seized on Monday evening. He is being held incommunicado and no official notice of detention has been delivered to his family, as required under Chinese law.

Zhao Shiying, pen name Zhao Dagong, is a well-known dissident writer and human rights defender from Shenzhen. He joined the Independent Chinese PEN Center in 2004, and has been a member of its Board since 2005. In October 2009, Zhao become ICPC's Secretary General. He has been regularly harassed by police since December 2008, but this is the first time that his home has been searched and materials confiscated.

According to PEN's information, at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 11, ten police officers entered Zhao's home and searched the premises, confiscating two computers, books, and notes. Following the search, which lasted more than seven hours, Zhao, his wife, and his son were taken to the local police station. His wife and son were released around 9:00 p.m. that same night, but were warned not to disclose the content of their questioning. The two were again called in for questioning the following evening, but were released the same night. Zhao Shiying remains in detention.

PEN fears that Zhao is being held for his very public support for former ICPC President Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009, for "inciting subversion of state power" in six articles he had written and his involvement in Charter 08. Zhao is also an original signatory of the Charter, and was questioned about his communications with Liu regarding the Charter's content. Zhao's answers were used in the Beijing Procuratorate's verdict against Liu.

"We are deeply troubled by the detention of Zhao Shiying, the latest in a string of arrests and detentions of members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center," said K. Anthony Appiah, President of PEN American Center. "We call on the government to release Zhao Shiying immediately, and to stop propagating this campaign against all citizens of China who are simply expressing themselves peacefully in accordance with their rights under Chinese and international law."

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of International PEN, the world's oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. The Freedom to Write Program of PEN American Center, which works to protect the freedom of the written word wherever it is imperiled, has been working to end China's imprisonment, harassment, and surveillance of writers and journalists and curtail Internet censorship and other restrictions on the freedom to write in that country. For more information, please visit http://www.pen.org/china

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  • Dissident writer sentenced to 11 years in prison

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