A former student leader of China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement has been arrested on fraud charges, his family said on Wednesday, weeks before the 20th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protests.
The arrest of Zhou Yongjun, a leader of the Beijing Students’ Autonomous Union in the 1989 protests, comes after months in secret detention following his return from the United States.
Zhou is a permanent U.S. resident, relatives said, and his case could stoke contention between Washington and Beijing.
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He was charged with fraud by police in his home city of Suining in southwest Sichuan province, said his brother, Zhou Lin, who spoke by telephone. Zhou Lin said his family received the written arrest notice on Wednesday morning.
Zhou Lin said he did not know the specifics behind the accusation, nor when his brother could have committed fraud in China, given his long residence in the United States.
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Zhou Yongjun’s partner, Zhang Yuewei, called the charge unfounded.
“He’s been under secret detention for a long time, since he tried to enter China last year,” said Zhang, speaking from California, where the couple live.