AFP - Leading Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been formally arrested for subversion, state media reported Wednesday, six months after he was detained in the wake of signing a pro-democracy charter.
Liu, 53, was arrested on Tuesday for "alleged agitation activities aimed at subversion of the government and overthrowing of the socialist system," Xinhua news agency said, citing Beijing police.
Liu, a writer who was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, has been detained since December after signing Charter 08, a widely circulated petition that called for greater democracy and the rule of law in China.
"Liu has been engaged in agitation activities, such as spreading of rumors and defaming of the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years," Xinhua quoted a police statement as saying.
Liu has confessed to the charge, the statement added.
His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told AFP he had no knowledge of the arrest. Mo has not been allowed to see Liu since December.
Beijing police declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
Liu has been under a form of house arrest away from his home since December, with rights groups calling for Beijing to release the writer and make public the charges against him.
Liu, who was jailed for two years for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen protests, headed a writer's group called the Independent Chinese PEN Centre when police took him away.
His case has drawn intense international criticism, with both the European Union and the United States demanding his quick release.
Novelists such as Britain's Salman Rushdie and Italy's Umberto Eco, as well as Nobel laureates in literature including Irish poet Seamus Heaney, have also campaigned for Liu's release.