China arrests activist writer for subversion

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BEIJING, Oct 1 (Reuters) China has formally arrested a writer and activist for inciting subversion, after over a month of detention and ahead of a sensitive top-level Communist Party meeting, his wife and rights activists said today.

Lu Gengsong, 51, was taken into custody in late August but his wife Wang Xue'e said she was only formally notified of his arrest on September 29.

Lu was suspected of ''inciting subversion of state power'', she said, but a charge of ''illegal possession of state secrets'' had apparently been dropped.

''He has been reporting problems with corruption in the Hangzhou area and the forced sale of property, they arrested him because they wanted to shut him up,'' Wang said in a telephone interview.

She did not know when his case might come to court. A freelance writer, Lu is a member of the banned Democracy party and frequently posts Internet articles criticising Beijing and reporting on human rights violations, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said in a statement.

Shortly before his own arrest, Lu had reported on a fellow activist who was confined in a psychiatric hospital after writing about the social impact of soaring meat prices, the group said.

China's leadership convenes on October 15 for the 17th Communist Party Congress, and Beijing is keen to ensure stability ahead of the five-yearly, closed-door meeting at which important leadership and policy decisions are expected.

There has also been a media crackdown with tighter content control and a ban on ''sexually provocative sounds'' on television, and ''saucy'' adverts for things like push-up bras.

REUTERS SKB BD1540

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