State media this week launched a high-profile campaign against an activist known for his unconventional and colourful protests, departing from the usual practice of keeping silent over news deemed too sensitive to be reported. The political news page of People's Daily prominently reported on Thursday the criminal detention of campaigner Wu Gan, also known by his online nickname "Super Vulgar Butcher". An article headlined "Revealing the true face of Super Vulgar Butcher", said Wu, 43, was detained by police in his home province of Fujian on Wednesday on the criminal charges of defamation and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" - a blanket charge often used to incriminate activists and dissidents. Exactly a week before that, Wu was placed in administrative detention by police in Jiangxi province for 10 days for "creating disturbance at a work unit" and verbal assault after joining a demonstration outside the Jiangxi high court, the report said. The report said Wu set up a mock grave and shouted but it did not explain what Wu was protesting about. The report listed a number of past incidents in which Wu employed unconventional ways of protesting, including parading a mannequin on which he had stuck a photograph of a woman official allegedly responsible for forced demolitions. The report quoted a number of ordinary people speaking anonymously denouncing his alleged aggressive protests. It also quoted people supposedly from his home town criticising his "over-the-top behaviour" and saying his family background was to blame. The report also quoted ex-colleagues saying he "grumbled a lot" and nearly got sacked several times, and mentioned Wu had divorced. Wu could not be reached yesterday. The article was carried by a number of state websites, including the semi-official China News Service and the Jiangxi provincial court's website. It was also carried by the websites of Phoenix TV, as well as Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspapers Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao . State-run Beijing News and Xinhua had similar stories on Wu, while CCTV and Beijing Television carried lengthy reports showing footage of Wu's loud protests outside the court with sound bites of people complaining about him. According to his Twitter account, Wu arrived in Jiangxi on Monday last week to join a protest staged by four lawyers over a rape and murder case, which allegedly involved the torture and jailing of four innocent people. "The butcher will formally kick start the swine-slaying operation tomorrow," Wu said in a message. Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the government was extremely nervous about losing control of the internet so had resorted to Cultural Revolution-style smear campaigns to target activists who were popular online.