A civil rights lawyer who was placed in criminal detention after he attended an event commemorating the anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square has been allowed to see his own legal representatives.
Pu Zhiqiang was being held at the Beijing No 1 Detention Centre and was in good health, according to one of the lawyers, Qu Zhenhong.
Also visiting Pu was Zhang Sizhi, who is in his late 80s and is one of the country's most eminent lawyers. Zhang was part of the defence team during the trial of the "counter-revolutionary" Gang of Four in 1980 following the Cultural Revolution.
Pu, who took part in the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests in 1989, was detained for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a charge frequently used against activists.
At least four people were placed in criminal detention after they attended a low-key event at a house in Beijing on Saturday ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crackdown. The charge, which has in the past been widely criticised as a common measure to tackle dissidents, can result in a prison term of up to 10 years.
"The meeting went smoothly and Pu appeared to be well," Qu said.
A person familiar with the case said the authorities had carried out checks on Pu's law firm last year, but failed to find any irregularities. "The authorities have been watching Pu and other activist lawyers for some time, and now comes the attack," the source said.
The Global Times, a state-run newspaper known for its hawkish stance, said in an editorial that the event to commemorate the June 4 crackdown had "clearly crossed the red line of the law" as it was related to "the most sensitive political issue" in China.
"These activist lawyers, who have wild intentions to challenge and change the law, have deviated from the scope of their own job. They are more like social activists rather than legal practitioners," it said. "They must regain self-awareness and realise they are not commandos or authoritative forces to improve China's rule of law."
Pu's detention aroused huge public sympathy because of his reputation for protecting civil rights and in cases involving in the re-education through labour system. He has been openly critical of ex-security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who is believed to be the subject of a graft investigation.