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Chinese activist officially arrested on subversion charges after monthlong detention
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    BEIJING — A Chinese civil rights activist who chronicled the plight of other dissidents before being taken from his home in December has been officially arrested and charged with inciting subversion, his lawyer said Friday.
    Hu Jia’s family was notified on Wednesday and his father was allowed to see him a day later, said Hu’s lawyer, Li Jinsong.
    The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, was the first contact Hu has had with his family or friends since he was taken without explanation from his apartment by security agents on Dec. 27.
    ‘‘Hu Jia’s father said his son was in good health and that he had been treated well,’’ Li said. It was also Hu Jia’s father’s birthday and it was ‘‘humane’’ for authorities to allow the visit, he said.
    But Li said they have not given any reason or evidence to back up the charge of ‘‘inciting subversion of state power,’’ a nebulous accusation Beijing often uses to imprison dissidents for years.
    One possibility may have been his participation via Webcam in a Nov. 26 European Parliament hearing, when he reportedly said it was ‘‘ironic that one of the people in charge of organizing the Olympic Games is the head of the Bureau of Public Security, which is responsible for so many human rights violations.’’
    Beijing police would not confirm Hu’s arrest, saying the case was still under investigation.
    The latest developments suggest that the Chinese government is determined to clamp down on any potential discord before the Beijing Olympics this summer, even at the risk of international criticism.
    The European Parliament passed a resolution demanding Hu’s release, and the U.S. has repeatedly raised his case with Chinese officials.
    His wife Zeng Jinyan and their two-month-old baby are under surveillance at the couple’s apartment. Authorities have cut off telephone and Internet connections and have not allowed visitors or reporters to visit them. His mother says she has been warned against speaking to the media about his case.
    Passionate and brash, Hu, 34, started out as a prominent AIDS and environmental activist, but became a one-man human rights organization after numerous clashes with police and state security agents, who put him under surveillance and confined him to his home. When he was detained in December, he had been under house arrest for more than 200 days.
    From his apartment, he blogged almost daily and sent out e-mails and text messages detailing the arrests, harassment and detention of other activists to a network of dissidents, reporters and diplomats in China.
    He lobbied for the release of Chen Guangcheng, a blind self-taught lawyer who was imprisoned after he documented forced abortions and other abuses.
    In 2006, he was held for 41 days and questioned about a nationwide hunger strike he helped organize with another outspoken activist, Gao Zhisheng, to protest violence against dissidents.
    Hu also turned his regular stints under house arrest in 2006 to his own advantage. From his apartment window, he filmed the daily lives of security agents who monitored him, catching them while they harassed his wife, Zeng, and as they napped and played cards to keep themselves entertained.
    The couple used the video to make a half-hour documentary called ‘‘Prisoners in Freedom City’’ — the name of their apartment complex. They were put under house arrest on May 18, 2007, as they tried to leave for Europe to promote the movie and meet other activists.
    Hu’s case will be investigated for at least another two months before it is presented to prosecutors and then taken to the courts, Li said.

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