Wang Gongquan

Billionaire liberal activist Wang Gongquan formally arrested

Lawyer confirmed formal arrest of investor and prominent support of Xu Zhiyong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 1:47pm

Outspoken human rights advocate Wang Gongquan, who has been detained by police for more than a month on charges of disturbing public order, has been formally arrested, according to his lawyer.

“I was informed by Beijing prosecutors on the phone that Wang Gongquan was arrested yesterday,” his lawyer Chen Youxi wrote in a microblog post on Monday. “The family has not yet been notified; the prosecution said it would deliver [the notice] today.”

The formal arrest of the wealthy 52-year-old venture capitalist comes more than a month after he was taken away from his Beijing home on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order”. He was denied bail last week.

Wang is one of the more prominent supporters of university lecturer Xu Zhiyong and his New Citizen Movement, which has called for the recognition of human rights enshrined in the Chinese constitution and for more government transparency. In August, Xu was one of the co-creators of a petition which called for the release of Xu.

Xu, one of China’s most prominent human rights activists, was formally arrested in July on identical charges. Xu had called on activists participating in his New Citizen Movement to meet regularly over dinner to discuss the constitution and the rule of law.

In conversations with the South China Morning Post prior to his detention, Wang said he was concerned about his future. Xiao Shu, the co-creator of the petition calling for Xu Zhiyong’s release and well known journalist, was detained in Beijing in August but then released. Dozens of members of the New Citizen Movement remain in police custody.

On Monday, Xiao Shu and 28 other prominent scholars called for Wang's "immediate release" in an open statement. "No matter what criminal charges the authorities put forward, the whole world knows that this is political prosecution," it reads.

Wang’s lawyer Chen could not be reached on the phone on Monday morning.