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A Chinese professor who has gained notoriety for being one of the few outspoken critics of President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party was taken from his home Monday on what his friends and family maintain are trumped-up charges.
Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Tsinghua University, was placed under house arrest earlier this year for writing an article that criticized Xi and his administration for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Several of his friends told the BBC that around 20 police officers showed up at his house early Monday, seizing his computer and papers before taking him away.
“He kept a bag with clothes and a toothbrush hanging on his front door so he would be ready for this,” a friend of Xu, Geng Xiaonan, told The New York Times.
Another friend told AFP that Xu’s wife had received a call from someone who said Xu was accused of soliciting prostitution – an allegation the friend dismissed as “ridiculous.”
Xu previously stoked the ire of party officials in 2018, when he published an essay that denounced Xi’s increasingly authoritarian policies.
“People nationwide, including the entire bureaucratic elite, feel once more lost in uncertainty about the direction of the country and about their own personal security,” Xu wrote in the essay.
The professor’s detainment comes amid a wider crackdown by the Chinese Communist Party on dissenters.
Last month, the country’s legislature passed a draft of a national security bill for Hong Kong that critics say jeopardizes the territory’s semi-autonomous standing.