World

5 women's rights activists formally detained in China after Women's Day crackdown, lawyer says

  • In this photo taken Thursday, July 31, 2014, women's rights activist Wei Tingting, right, waits outside a court where the first court case in China involving so-called conversion therapy is held in Beijing, China. Wei is one of five women activists criminally detained for planning to put up anti-sexual harassment posters in three Chinese cities according to her lawyer on Friday, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    In this photo taken Thursday, July 31, 2014, women's rights activist Wei Tingting, right, waits outside a court where the first court case in China involving so-called conversion therapy is held in Beijing, China. Wei is one of five women activists criminally detained for planning to put up anti-sexual harassment posters in three Chinese cities according to her lawyer on Friday, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Thursday, July 31, 2014, women's rights activist Wei Tingting, right, waits outside a court where the first court case in China involving so-called conversion therapy is held in Beijing, China. Wei is one of five women activists criminally detained for planning to put up anti-sexual harassment posters in three Chinese cities according to her lawyer on Friday, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    In this photo taken Thursday, July 31, 2014, women's rights activist Wei Tingting, right, waits outside a court where the first court case in China involving so-called conversion therapy is held in Beijing, China. Wei is one of five women activists criminally detained for planning to put up anti-sexual harassment posters in three Chinese cities according to her lawyer on Friday, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

The lawyer of a women's rights activist says Beijing police have told him his client and four other women activists have been criminally detained for planning to put up anti-sexual harassment posters in three Chinese cities.

Lawyer Wang Qiushi, who represents activist Wei Tingting, said Friday that police this week told lawyers representing the women that they have been accused of creating disturbances. Wang said it wasn't clear when the women were formally detained, which is a legal step before being tried in court.

He said if convicted of creating disturbances, the women could serve up to three years in prison.

The women were detained last weekend before they could put up posters in conjunction with International Women's Day. The European Union and the U.S. have called for their release.