Another three Chinese dissidents in prison

Police apprehended Yang Maodong, Zhang Jianhong and Chen Shuqing on charges of publishing "subversive" articles and conducting "illegal business". The three men are all known to the authorities for their pro-democracy work.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Three dissidents accused of posting "subversive" articles on the internet and for running an illegal business have been arrested by the Chinese government, Reporters without Borders said yesterday.

Yang Maodong, Zhang Jianhong and Chen Shuqing were arrested separately over the past two weeks. It is not clear what prompted the arrests or whether the cases were connected, however they come amid a government campaign to tighten control over China's media and the internet. Dozens of people have been detained by police in recent months after tackling "sensitive political topics".

Yang Maodong, also known as Guo Feixiong, was arrested on 14 September in Guangzhou, Guangdong. He was charged setting up a fake publishing house and selling 20,000 books. No details about the books were given.

The dissident, 40, was detained several times last year for helping residents of Taishi in their campaign against the corruption of the mayor and local party officials. At the time of the protest, he posted several articles on the internet to explain the real plight of the village and to denounce the violent methods used by police.

His wife, Zhang Qing, was not allowed to visit him; she insisted the charges were "completely baseless".

Zhang Jianhong and Chen Shuqing were both charged with "inciting subversion against the state", a vaguely worded charge authorities frequently use against activists they deem potentially threatening to the Communist leadership.

Zhang, 48, was detained on September 6 in Ningbo in Zhejiang province. Police seized disk drives from his two computers and his phone book. They also interrogated his wife about "his friends" and "articles he posted on foreign websites".

Zhang is known to the authorities:  he was involved with the 1989 pro-democracy movement and spent 18 months in a re-education facility for writing "counterrevolutionary propaganda".

Chen, a founder of the banned China Democracy Party, was arrested on September 14 in Zhejiang. Police searched his home and seized his computer's disk drives. He passed an exam to practice law last year but Zhejiang's Bureau of Justice refused him a license as he had put "articles on the internet that violated the constitution".