Detained Hunan dissident Zhu Chengzhi allowed to see wife

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 4:09am

Hunan dissident Zhu Chengzhi, who has been detained for seven months on subversion charges for investigating the death of Tiananmen activist Li Wangyang , was allowed to see his wife for the first time in months yesterday.

Zhu's wife, Zeng Qiulian, was taken by police to a hotel to meet him for two hours yesterday morning, his lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said. Zhu is being held at a secret location, he said.

"She said he looked okay … his hair and beard have grown very long because they have not been cut," Liu said. Zeng's mobile phone was switched off yesterday. Shaoyang police refused to comment.

Zhu, 62, was detained two days after his friend Li died in suspicious circumstances on June 6. He was formally arrested in August for "inciting subversion of state power" and was held at a Shaoyang police detention centre until January 4, when he was transferred to a secret location for "residential surveillance" - a form of detention enabling police to hold a suspect outside custody.

Shaoyang authorities claimed 62-year-old Li hanged himself in his hospital ward. But Zhu told the South China Morning Post on the day Li died: "I simply don't think it was a suicide because Li was the kind of guy who would never commit suicide, even if a knife was held against his neck."

Since Zhu was detained, police have pressured his relatives to get him to sign a retraction of statements he made to the media that cast doubt on the official version of Li's death.

Fellow activist Wang Lihong, who spoke to Zhu's wife yesterday, said Zhu remained incarcerated because he refused to sign the retraction. But she and other activists would continue to press the authorities to release him before the Lunar New Year.

Li - a nearly blind and deaf dissident who served a total of 21 years behind bars for his activism in Hunan in support of the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in 1989 - was found dead four days after Hong Kong Cable Television broadcast an interview with the labour activist.