Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that the Guangzhou Procuratorate has sent back the case against rights defender Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong) for a new round of investigation due to insufficient evidence. In addition, Guo has been transferred to a detention center in Liaoning, in spite of assurances earlier this month by Guangzhou authorities that this would not happen.
Guo Feixiong, who provided legal advice in a number of controversial rights defense cases, was detained on September 14, 2006, and formally arrested on September 30, 2006 on suspicion of "illegal business activity." According to the indictment against Gao, the allegation stems from some editing work he did for a book published in Liaoning Province regarding a political scandal in Shenyang City. The Guangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) referred the case to the Guangzhou Municipal Procuratorate on October 19, but the procuratorate sent the case back to the PSB on October 28 for further investigation. On January 6, 2007, Guo's wife, Zhang Qing, received a letter from him in prison stating that on December 28, 2006, the procuratorate had informed him that it had received a "statement of investigation" from the PSB, and that Guo could seek legal counsel.
However, sources in China told HRIC that on January 22, a case officer from the Guangzhou PSB surnamed Chen telephoned Guo's wife and told her that on January 19 the Guangzhou Procuratorate had sent the case back again on the grounds of insufficient evidence, and that the case had been transferred to the authorities in Liaoning Province. The PSB officer further told Zhang Qing that Guo Feixiong himself had been transferred to the Liaoning Provincial Detention Center on January 20. This occurred just a week after Guangzhou authorities had assured Zhang Qing through Guo's lawyer that Guo's case would not be transferred.
Guo Feixiong was detained and beaten on a number of occasions in 2005 and 2006 before he was formally arrested. He has told his lawyer that he has been subjected to severe physical abuse and round-the-clock interrogation in detention, and he has reportedly gone on hunger strike for a total of 40 days in protest against his treatment.
HRIC expresses strong concern over Guo's transfer to a distant location, and the dragging out of an investigation that after more than four months has still not generated sufficient evidence to proceed. HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to immediately provide Guo with all necessary and appropriate medical care. This case also raises serious questions over the retaliatory use of the criminal process against rights defenders and activists.