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China arrests rights lawyer who took on labor camps

BEIJING -- Police on Friday formally arrested a rights lawyer who is well known in China for his efforts to defend free speech, abolish labor camps and publicize abuses by police and Communist Party officials.

The arrest of attorney Pu Zhiqiang, announced by Beijing's Public Security Bureau on its microblog website, is being seen by activists as part of an effort by Chinese authorities to rein in outspoken lawyers who have harnessed social media and other platforms to raise public awareness about civic rights.

Police said Pu was arrested on suspicion of “creating a disturbance” and “illegally obtaining personal information.” It did not provide details, but the former offense, a kind of public disorder crime, has been widely used to prosecute activists in recent months.

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