Shanghai has placed activist lawyer Guo Guoting under house arrest, just days after banning him from practising for a year, sources said yesterday. The city government suspended his licence earlier this month for 'anti-constitutional speeches and acts' after he posted articles on websites criticising the legal system and alleging that some of his clients had been mistreated in prison. Sources close to the lawyer said Mr Guo, who is best known for defending dissidents, was detained by police or state security after the licence hearing and was then sent home, but he was forbidden from leaving the house. He has not been formally arrested. 'He can't go out. He isn't free to speak,' one source said. Mr Guo could not be reached by phone for comment yesterday. Mr Guo was thrust into the national spotlight through his defence of another lawyer, Zheng Enchong , who is now serving a three-year jail term for leaking state secrets after he faxed an international human rights group about labour and urban relocation disputes in Shanghai. Before his arrest, Zheng advised Shanghai residents on hundreds of property cases and alleged official corruption in land sales. Police detained Zheng's wife as she tried to visit her husband's lawyer last week, the New York-based group Human Rights in China said. Jiang Meili wanted to discuss the alleged mistreatment of her husband in prison, the rights group said. Labelled the 'accidental activist' by The New York Times, Mr Guo has taken on the cases of Falun Gong members and several journalists, including Huang Jinqiu , who was jailed for 12 years for posting articles about political reform. Mr Guo still maintains an office at his law firm in Shanghai, but he said earlier this month that other lawyers were unhappy about his activism.