Liu Xiaobo Formally Arrested for Inciting Subversion of State Power

Liu Xiaobo Formally Arrested for “Inciting Subversion of State Power”


(Chinese Human Rights Defenders—June 24, 2009) – CHRDlearned today that Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波),signatory of Charter 08 and prominentintellectual, was formally arrested for “inciting subversion of state power” onJune 23.  He had been detained sinceDecember 8, 2008.


Police from the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB)National Security Unit delivered Liu Xiaobo’s formal arrest notice dated June23 to his wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), at about11 am today. The police also told Liu Xia that Mo Shaoping (莫少平), one of the best-known human rights lawyers in China,cannot represent Liu Xiaobo, even though Liu Xia had retained Mo and ShangBaojun (尚宝军), a lawyer from the Mo ShaopingLaw Firm, to be Liu Xiaobo’s defense lawyers. According to the authorities, Mocannot be Liu Xiaobo’s lawyer because he is also a signatory of Charter 08. Liu Xiaobo’s detention andarrest are believed to be related to the authorities’ suspicions that he draftedCharter 08 and organized thecollection of signatures.


“We expected that Liu would be formally charged eventually,”said Mo. “Iwill fight the decision to bar me from representing Mo in accordance with thelaw.”


Liu Xiaobo is currently being subjected to"residential surveillance" (jianshi juzhu), a form of pre-trialdetention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing.Liu has been barred from contacting the outside worldexcept for two meetings with his wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), arranged by authorities, onJanuary 1 and March 20 in Xiaotangshan, Changping District, Beijing.


Now that Liu Xiaobo has been formally arrested, he is expected to betransferred to a detention center. 


The crime of “inciting subversion of statepower” is stipulated under Article 105(2) ofthe Chinese Criminal Code. If convicted, Liu faces a maximum of fifteen yearsof fixed-term imprisonment.  Since itsadoption in 1997, article 105(2) has been regularlyused by the authorities to criminalize freedom ofexpression.  CHRD has documented dozens of cases of dissidents and free-speechactivists persecuted under this law in recent years,including 2008 Sakharov Prize winner, Hu Jia (胡佳), who is currently serving asentence of three and a half years inprison.  For more information, please see CHRD’sJanuary 2008 report, “’Inciting Subversion of State Power’:A Legal Tool for Prosecuting Free Speech in China.”

Charter 08 is a manifesto callingfor bold reforms promoting democracy and human rights in China.  It was published on December 9, 2008, one dayafter Liu Xiabo’s detention.  Itinitially had over 303 signatories and now has more than 8,000. Over a hundredsignatories have been harassed, intimidated and persecuted by the authoritiesin connection with Charter 08


Media contacts for this press release:

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +13015479286 Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor (English, Mandarin andCantonese): +85281911660


For more information, please see:

Lawyer for Liu Xiaobo Submits Formal Request DemandingDetails of Activist’s Detention (February 11, 2009)


Over One Hundred Signatories Harassed Since Launch of Charter 08 (January 8,2009),


Liu Xiaobo under ResidentialSurveillance at Undisclosed Location (January 2, 2009),


Police Summon Beijing Intellectual Zhang Zuhua, China Continues Crackdown onCharter 08 (December 29, 2008),


Crackdown on Charter 08 Widens as More Activists are Interrogated and Intimidated(December 16, 2008),


CHRD, "Chinese Government Responds with a Crackdown on Activists forCommemorating 60th Anniversary of UDHR", December 9, 2008,




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