By Didi Tang ,AP
BEIJING — A prominent Chinese rights lawyer taken into custody a year ago was formally indicted on charges of fanning ethnic hatred and provoking trouble, prosecutors said Friday.
A Beijing prosecutors office said in a statement that Pu Zhiqiang should be criminally prosecuted for his online comments that fanned ethnic hatred and those that insulted people in a disruption of social order.
Pu was taken away last May after he attended a private meeting commemorating the 25th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Pu is best known for his successful efforts to abolish China’s labor camps, which allowed police to lock up people for up to four years without a trial or judicial review. Before his detention, he was trying to call attention to the long-standing but extrajudicial practice by the ruling Communist Party to lock up its members accused of wrongdoing.
Prosecutors dropped a more severe charge of inciting divisions as well as a charge of illegally obtaining personal information.
Mo Shaoping, a Beijing-based lawyer who is representing Pu, said he had expected reduced charges but he argued the two charges in the formal indictment are still groundless.
��I don’t think the remaining two charges have any basis,�� Mo said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department called for Pu’s release, and Beijing told Washington not to interfere with China’s judicial affairs.
The charges largely stem from postings in which Pu questioned China’s ethnic policies and practices following violence by members of the ethnic minority Uighurs and criticized some public figures.
The ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead in China in the last couple of years. Although Beijing has blamed it on religion-influenced terrorists with foreign ties, Pu is among people who have asked for a review of China’s ethnic practices and policies.
��If Xinjiang is indeed part of China, don’t treat it as a colony, don’t behave like conquerors and looters,�� Pu wrote on his microblog, which had been shut down by the authorities.
In social media, Pu also criticized some public figures or made sarcastic remarks about them. For example, he suggested that a mayor was shameless for serving three different party chiefs. Pu also poked fun at an octogenarian national delegate who has never voted no during her six-decade tenure at the national congress by suggesting she would be honored if she should die now.