Nicholas Bequelin, senior researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said Ran's formal arrest was "another step back for freedom of expression in China".
"The Chinese definition of the crime of incitement to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system should not be used as the test of whether Ran's writings were indeed subversive, since such definition equates any criticism of the Communist Party's one-party rule," he said.
After a spate of anonymous online calls for the so-called jasmine revolution during the past month, a dozen human rights lawyers -including Teng Biao, Jiang Tianyong and Tang Jingling -and activists vanished and are believed to be in police custody. Another 24 activists were detained on criminal charges -around half of them state security charges -and at least 150 had been subjected to various forms of detention, Chinese Human Rights Defenders said.
The tightening of the government's grip is felt elsewhere.
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