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Chinese Activist Lawyer Beaten, Detained

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SHANGHAI, China —  A Chinese activist lawyer who was beaten and harassed several times in recent days has been taken away by police again, a fellow activist in Shanghai said Tuesday.

The lawyer, Zheng Enchong, was left injured and bleeding after a beating in police custody on Feb. 20, the watchdog group Human Rights in China reported. Three days earlier, Zheng also was beaten in police custody by unidentified men.

Police came for Zheng again on Monday, said Feng Zhenghu, a Shanghai-based human rights activist.

"I heard that he's been taken away to the police station yesterday," Feng said. "I haven't heard from him since then, so I have no idea if he's back or not."

Human Rights in China said Zheng apparently was detained because of recent advice he gave to angry Shanghai downtown residents who have been evicted to make room for large development projects, and for an interview he gave the Epoch Times, a U.S.-based newspaper linked to the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

It's very common for police to take Zheng away for a talk, Feng said. "We don't know clearly why they took him again this time."

Phone calls to Zheng's wife, Jiang Meili, either rang unanswered or were cut off Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the news office of the Shanghai Municipal Public Safety Bureau, who refused to be named, said the office has heard about Zheng's case, but she did not give more details.

Zheng has said previously that he is determined to report corruption and human rights violations related to Shanghai development projects. He served three years in prison for allegedly revealing state secrets while helping Shanghai residents sue a prominent real estate developer.

He was put under house arrest after his release in 2006 and authorities warned him not to speak to the media. Human Rights in China said he has faced harassment from police ever since his release.

As China prepares to host the Olympics this summer, the government faces intense scrutiny of the way it treats activists. Three prominent journalists detained in China have been released this month, but democracy activist and anti-corruption campaigner Lu Gengsong was sentenced to four years in prison on subversion charges, and well-known dissident Hu Jia was formally arrested on a charge of inciting subversion.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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