Guangdong authorities formally arrested Wukan village chief Lin Zuluan on Thursday for alleged graft as defiant residents pressed on with their month-long protest in support of their elected leader. The Shanwei government, which oversees Wukan, announced the arrest in an online statement. But, a month after Lin, 70, was detained, villagers continued their daily demonstrations demanding his release. “No matter how hard the authorities try to smear Lin’s character, our eyes are crystal clear,” one Wukan resident said. “Lin’s respected reputation is not something that can be distorted by some articles online ... That thousands of villagers are marching every day is testament to him. [The authorities] have underestimated the people of Wukan.” Wukan made international headlines in 2011 after massive protests by villagers against land seizures and corruption ended with the provincial government allowing them to directly elect their chief. The villagers of the remote fishing village had fought to regain more than 10 sq km of illegally occupied land. They reclaimed 1.3 sq km, but the rest remains in limbo. Last month, Lin planned to spearhead village complaints about land use but he was detained by police in a midnight raid on his home on June 18. Authorities in Lufeng and Shanwei accused Lin of taking 80,000 yuan (HK$93,000) in kickbacks over the construction of a running track a local school. Residents then began mounting daily protests to demand Lin’s release. Lin’s family said the authorities had interfered with their attempts to hire lawyers for the 70-year-old. His 68-year-old wife Yang Zhen said in a statement published earlier this month that she did not recognise the two government-appointed lawyers representing her husband. “We are entirely capable of affording our own lawyers so we do not require legal aid. The lawyers [appointed by the government] to handle Lin’s case are not recognised by Lin’s family,” Yang’s statement said. According to villagers, Yang was receiving medical treatment for high blood pressure at an unknown location. Authorities are understood to have restricted the movements of other family members, including his grandchildren, for at least two weeks.