Chinese dissident charged with subversion... for writing a poem

The Chinese authorities have indicted a veteran dissident on subversion charges for writing a poem urging people to gather to defend their freedoms, his lawyer said yesterday.

The dissident, Zhu Yufu, is the latest activist facing such charges in a continuing clampdown. The 60-year-old, from Hangzhou, was arrested last April for "inciting subversion of state power", a charge often used against critics of the ruling Communist Party.

His lawyer, Li Dunyong, collected the indictment on Monday and met Mr Zhu, whom he described as being "in a good condition". No trial date has been set.

"The main reason for the indictment was a poem he had written calling for people to gather. He had written the poem around the same time there was chaos [in the Middle East]," Mr Li said. "He believes in the freedom of expression."

Mr Zhu's indictment comes after a court last month sentenced another veteran dissident, Chen Xi, to 10 years in jail for subversion. Another dissident, Chen Wei, was jailed in December for nine years on similar charges.