An activist lawyer with close ties to a jailed Chinese dissident is missing, a rights group said Friday.
Teng Biao did not return home from his Beijing office on Thursday, despite telling his wife he would be back around 8:30 p.m., the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group said on its Web site.
Teng’s wife, Wang Ling, said she heard someone yelling downstairs around the time her husband was supposed to come home, according to the group. People in the street below said they had seen a man being dragged into a black car, which then drove away, it said.
It was not immediately clear if the man taken away was Teng or why he would disappear. But it is common for activists to be taken away without warning by state security agents who drive unmarked cars.
Teng’s cell phone was turned off Friday and police at the station which oversees his district said they had not heard about his disappearance. The Beijing public security bureau refused to answer questions over the telephone and did not immediately respond to a faxed request asking for details.
Teng, 34, is a close friend of Hu Jia, a vocal civil rights activist who has been charged with the vague crime of inciting subversion of state power. Hu was taken without explanation from his home by agents on Dec. 27 after being confined there for more than 200 days.
Hu, 34, started out as an activist on environmental issues and for people with AIDS. He later became a one-man clearing house for human rights issues, often chronicling the plight of other dissidents. Hu and his wife clashed repeatedly with police and state security agents, who put him under constant surveillance and confined them to their home.
Authorities have offered no evidence to back up the subversion charge. The nebulous accusation is often used by Beijing to imprison activists, sometimes for years.
Hu had participated via Webcam in a Nov. 26 European Parliament hearing, when he reportedly said it was “ironic that one of the people in charge of organizing the Olympic Games is the head of the Bureau of Public Security, which is responsible for so many human rights violations.”
China’s communist leaders have invested massive national prestige in the Olympics and are extremely sensitive to any criticism that might tarnish the Games.
Teng, a part-time lawyer and a lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law, has been outspoken in his admiration and support for Hu, who he met about two years ago while working on human rights cases.
“Hu Jia is the bravest among the activists I know because he never avoids any human rights issue,” Teng said in an interview with The Associated Press in January.