July 6, 2020

Chinese police have detained one of the country's most prominent remaining critics of President Xi Jinping.

Xu Zhangrun, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, was "one of the last voices within China's besieged intellectual circles who dared to openly and persistently criticize" Xi, The Washington Post reports.

Xu, the Post notes, published an essay in February in which he blasted "the worst political team to have run China since 1978" and called for Beijing to "respect the basic universal rights of our citizens," additionally calling for an independent investigation into "the origins of the coronavirus epidemic, to trace the resulting cover-up, identify the responsible parties, and analyze the systemic origins of the crisis." He acknowledged in the essay that it may "be the last thing I write." Xu was previously banned from teaching and research at the university, The New York Times reports.

Police, according to the Times, raided Xu's home in Beijing on Monday morning and took away his computer and papers. "The neighbors described about 10 police vehicles and two dozen officers who blocked and entered his house, and took him away," businesswoman Geng Xiaonan told the Times. "Xu Zhangrun said he was mentally prepared to be taken away. He kept a bag with clothes and a toothbrush hanging on his front door so he would be ready for this. But it's still a shock when it really happens." Brendan Morrow

June 6, 2014

North Korea said Friday it has detained an American citizen who visited the country as a tourist in April. The state-run news agency KCNA identified the man as Jeffrey Edward Fowle, saying authorities are investigating him for "hostile activities" after he allegedly left a Bible at a hotel. Fowle visited North Korea as part of a tour group in late April and has been in custody since mid-May, a Japanese news organization reports.

Fowle's arrest makes him the third U.S. citizen known to be detained by the secretive country. North Korea announced in late April that it had 24-year-old tourist Miller Matthew Todd in custody for reportedly demanding asylum. It also sentenced missionary Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American caught in the country in 2012, to 15 years of hard labor for "acts aimed at bringing down the regime of leader Kim Jong Un."

The U.S. State Department said it was "aware" that North Korea had arrested a third American citizen, but didn't share further details. Jordan Valinsky

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