Police release dissident after day in custody

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 April, 1998, 12:00am

VETERAN dissident Xu Wenli was released yesterday after being held by police for 24 hours in Beijing.

'The police brought me home at about 8 am,' Mr Xu said.

He said the police blamed him for prompting another dissident, Qin Yongmin , of Wuhan, to speak out on human rights. 'They want to intimidate me into leaving the country,' Mr Xu said.

He said the police arrested him at about 8.30 am on Friday. They confiscated his computer, fax machine, documents and personal items belonging to his family.

He said the police were polite and did not use any force during his detention.

The police questioned him about his links with other dissidents. 'They told me they were upgrading my interrogation to a more serious level, but I refused to answer their questions,' Mr Xu said.

He said that on March 20 he mentioned to officials his intention of setting up an organisation to monitor rights.

On the same day, Mr Qin and Mao Guoliang proposed publishing a magazine and a newspaper.

Mr Xu and his wife had successfully applied for passports to attend their daughter's graduation in New York.

But now he said he had changed his mind. 'There are not that many activists working in China and there must be someone persisting in pursuing democracy,' he said. 'If I leave, I'm afraid I may not be allowed to come back.' By CHAN YEE HON