BEIJING— Beijing police Friday released the last of more than a dozen supporters of jailed anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong who were detained after traveling to the jail where he has been held.
Those arrested at the Number Three Detention Center in Beijing’s suburbs Thursday included his lawyer Liu Weiguo, who was trying to see his client. When police barred him from visiting, he said police were infringing on his professional rights. They then detained him for several hours.
“They didn’t give any reason and in the end didn’t even present me with any written notice. Then after 9pm they drove me to a hotel and left.” No formal charges were issued against him.
Police detained the other supporters for participating in an illegal gathering.
Lawyer Liu Weiguo said he will keep pressing police at the jail to see his client until they relent.
At least 40 people who participated in Xu’s campaign advocating for the disclosure of government officials’ assets have been jailed since last March.
Xu Zhiyong himself was under house arrest for months without formal charges, before he was detained on July 16 on charges of gathering people to disturb the public order. Supporters said they are now concerned about the impact of prolonged detention on the health of the 40 year old lawyer and former lecturer turned activist.
“This makes us wonder whether Xu Zhiyong is safe or not, and we can’t rule out the possibility that he’s being extorted or tortured,” Liu Weiguo said.
In April Xu Zhiyong spoke to VOA about his determination to push forward his campaign under any conditions.
“Of course we will continue to demand the disclosure of officials' assets. It is the trend of the times and civilized governments all require assets disclosure. We will not be scared, our request is totally normal” he said.
Liu Weiguo said Friday he plans to file a formal charge against Beijing authorities for the handling of Xu’s detention and violation of his right to see his legal counsel.