“The United States is concerned over reports that prominent Chinese legal scholar and rights advocate Xu Zhiyong."
“The United States is concerned over reports that prominent Chinese legal scholar and rights advocate Xu Zhiyong was taken into police custody July 16th for ‘assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,’ and is now being held at a detention center in Beijing,” said U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf at a press briefing in Washington D.C.
Xu Zhiyong is a leading public advocate in China for fiscal transparency and for fighting against official corruption. Xu had reportedly spent over three months under extrajudicial house arrest prior to his detention.
Xu, 40, is a law lecturer at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. He received his Doctor of Laws degree from Beijing University in 2002, and was one of the founders of the nongovernmental organization “Open Constitution Initiative,” which sought to help the underprivileged.
The Open Constitution Initiative was fined and shut down by the Chinese authorities in July 2009 after publishing a report critical of China’s policies in Tibet.
On July 29, 2009, Xu Zhiyong was detained by Chinese authorities on charges of tax evasion. He was released on bail on August 23, 2009.
U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said: “The United States Government is concerned that he is being prosecuted as retribution for his public campaign to expose official malfeasance and for the peaceful expression of his views. We call on Chinese authorities to release Xu immediately, cease any restrictions on his freedom of movement, and guarantee him the protections and freedoms to which he is entitled under China’s international human rights commitments.”