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Writers in U.S. and China denounce formal arrest of Liu Xianbin

(PEN American Center/IFEX) - New York City, Beijing, July 30, 2010 - The case of writer and longtime activist Liu Xianbin was formally transferred to the Suining Municipal People's Procuratorate on July 21, 2010, invoking fears that he could face at least another decade in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" for his writings. The move is the latest in what PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) note is a "dispiriting pattern of utilizing nation security laws to silence its citizens."

Liu Xianbin, a 41-year-old freelance writer based in Suining, Sichuan Province, was detained on June 28, 2010, after police interrogated him and searched his home. Fourteen police officers from the Suining City Public Security Bureau confiscated hard drives, USB devices, his bank card, and six notices from his editors regarding remuneration for several articles he published on overseas web sites. On July 5, Liu was formally arrested and charged with "inciting subversion of state power," and his case was handed over to the Procuratorate with a recommendation for prosecution. He is being held at the Detention Center of Suining City.

Liu was first imprisoned in 1992 on charges of "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement" for his involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, and was later sentenced to 13 years in prison for "subversion of state power" for his writing and his participation in the banned Chinese Democracy Party. He was released early, on November 6, 2008, but still faced three years' deprivation of political rights. It was during this period that Liu was active in publishing articles on overseas electronic journals.

"Once again, China seems bent on prosecuting one of its citizens simply for expressing his views in online publications," said Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write and International programs at PEN American Center. "Liu, who was already constrained by the previous judgment stripping him of his political rights in violation of his right to freedom of expression, appears headed toward jail once again. We strongly protest his arrest and urge the government to abandon this prosecution and restore him his full political rights."

"Liu Xianbin's case is further evidence of the continuing deterioration of the climate for the freedom to write and publish in China since Beijing hosted the Olympic Games," said Yu Zhang, ICPC's executive secretary and Writers in Prison Committee coordinator. "There are now fears that the record 11-year sentence Dr. Liu Xiaobo received for the same offense of "inciting subversion of state power" may soon be broken as Chinese authorities pursue an aggressive 'Strike-hard' policy that includes faster trials and more severe sentences. We call on the world community to press Chinese authorities to release Liu Xianbin, Liu Xiaobo, and all other imprisoned writers immediately."

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