Radical Islamist units in Syria are sidelining more moderate groups that do not share the Islamists' goal of establishing a supreme religious leadership in the country. Special Report
China frees rights lawyer, may try dissident
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities on Saturday released human rights lawyer Teng Biao after a secretive two-day detention even while they indicated a likely trial of the prominent dissident Hu Jia who Teng has boldly championed.
Beijing law lecturer Teng was bundled into a car without licence plates on Thursday night, his wife Wang Ling told reporters on Friday.
Teng, 34, has defended dissidents and urged stronger citizens' rights before Beijing's 2008 Olympic Games. He has been especially vocal for his friend Hu Jia, a dissident facing subversion charges after spending much of 2007 under house arrest.
On Saturday afternoon, Beijing police released Teng after two days in detention that had already attracted intense attention from local and foreign rights advocates.
"I was taken in by Beijing Public Security at 8:40 on Thursday and then I was taken home by them at 1:40 this afternoon," Teng told Reuters on his wife's mobile telephone. "That's all I can say now. It wouldn't be convenient to say more."
Teng's own mobile telephone was also turned back on after two days' silence and he said he was in "good enough" health. Calls to a Chinese Ministry of Public Security spokesman about the case were not answered.
But hours after Teng was freed, a source close to the family of Hu Jia said police hope to bring the dissident to trial for his outspoken essays and statements to reporters.
Hu, a 34-year-old Beijing-based advocate for AIDS sufferers and a range of controversial rights issues, was detained in late December on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power" -- an accusation authorities often press against dissidents strongly critical of the Communist Party.
The source, who requested anonymity, said police told the family they had presented prosecutors with a case based on Hu's "statements attacking the government" in essays and interviews with foreign reporters.
Police told Hu's wife Zeng Jinyan and other family members that they cannot visit him and to be prepared for a trial.
Earlier this year, the procuratorate, or state prosecution, approved Hu's formal arrest by police, allowing them to continue holding and investigating him. But so far prosecutors have not announced a final decision on whether to try him and, if so, on what specific charges.
Hu's wife and parents could not be reached.
Phelim Kine, an Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, a watchdog group based in New York, said Teng's "apparent detention remains unacceptable for an Olympics host city such as Beijing".
Last month, Human Rights Watch issued an essay that Hu and Teng wrote together last year, denouncing what they called a deterioration in rights before Beijing's Games in August.
"Allowing a country that tramples on human dignity to hold the Olympics does not bring honour to the people of this country, nor does it bring glory to the Olympic Games," they wrote.
(Additional reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim)
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