24 June 2009

Liu Xiaobo Formally Arrested on Incitement Charges

Word came down earlier today through the Xinhua wire that veteran dissident Liu Xiaobo has been formally arrested on charges of inciting subversion. (See, e.g., this report by the New York Times.) This is a disappointing development, but not totally unexpected.

I'm literally about to run out the door and don't have a lot of time to weigh in here, but I wanted to excerpt from this post by Beijing rights lawyer Liu Lu (刘路), who offers his analysis and predictions:
1. The "criminal facts" for which [Liu] Xiaobo has been charged likely are limited to the articles he has written over the past few years and is not related to "Charter 08." Otherwise, the crime would be subversion and not incitement and the [Xinhua] article would mention ["Charter 08"] in order to frighten the other signatories. Also, there would be other arrests and trials.

2. It's likely that [Liu] Xiaobo will be indicted within a month and tried quickly. I predict that a trial would conclude before the end of July and that Xiaobo's sentence would be five years or less. If the procuratorate decides to prosecute him for "major crimes," the sentence could be greater than five years, but no matter what it would not exceed 10 years.

3. The phrase "Liu Xiabo has confessed to the criminal facts" really means that Xiaobo has acknowledged that he wrote articles but doesn't imply any value judgment regarding whether the articles constitute a crime. In other words, Xiaobo likely just admitted the facts and has not admitted wrongdoing. The authorities are playing word games here.
I agree with most of this, though I don't think that the point made in (1) is as clear-cut as he does. More later.

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