Reporters Without Borders today called for the immediately release of pro-democracy activist and cyber-dissident Zhang Lin, who was arrested on 29 January in Bengbu (in Anhui province, west of Shanghai) for posting articles on various websites. Police told his wife he would be detained for two weeks.
"We firmly condemn the harassment of pro-democracy intellectuals that has been taking place since the death of former Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang," the press freedom organization said.
The two weeks of detention imposed on Zhang is an administrative measure often applied in cases of disturbance of the peace. In his case it is clearly intended as a warning that he should stop speaking out and publishing articles.
A dozen policemen searched Zhang’s home on 6 February and confiscated his computer. One of the police officers reportedly told his wife that "he will not be treated nicely" if he continued to write.
Zhang is a well-known activist. He often posts his articles on websites linked to the Falun Gong spiritual movement such as Dajiyuan.com and Epochtimes.com, as well as Boxun.com, a website about human rights in China. In an interview a few days before his arrest for the magazine Epoch Times, which was also posted on its website, he described Zhao as a "sincere man" and "unique Chinese leader."
Zhang was imprisoned from 1989 to 1991, and again from 1995 to 1998, when he was sentenced to hard labour. He then left for the United States to pursue his political activities, but reentered China illegally a few months later and was rearrested a third time, at which point he was sent to a labour camp until 2001. In all, he has spent eight years in detention.