A man has been arrested in China for voicing dissent over the internet, a human rights group has said.
Beijing is wary of the powers of the internet
Li Zhi, a 32-year-old local official from Dazhou, in Sichuan province, has been charged with conspiracy to subvert state power, the Human Rights in China (HRIC) group reported.
Mr Li was detained on 8 August and formally charged on 3 September, according to HRIC.
He could face 15 years in prison if found guilty, the group said.
Mr Li is not the first Chinese citizen to be punished for his use of the internet in recent years.
Four internet journalists were given long prison sentences in June for subversion, after posting online appeals calling for political change.
HRIC said it deplored "the suppression and persecution of people seeking to peacefully express their views over the internet".
There has so far been no comment from the authorities in China.
Cracking down on dissent
Mr Li frequently expressed his views on online bulletin boards and chat rooms, HRIC said in a statement.
He has also been accused of communicating online with overseas dissidents, the group said, quoting unnamed sources.
The Chinese authorities are keen to promote the commercial potential of the internet, but are anxious to control its political content.
The campaign group Reporters Without Borders estimates that China employs 30,000 people to watch what its people are doing online.
Filters installed by the government ban access to foreign websites run by dissidents, human rights groups and
some news organisations.
The content of domestic sites is also
Reporters Without Borders estimates that 36 people have been arrested and jailed in recent years for putting controversial content on the internet.
Liu Qing, the president of HRIC, said: "Monitoring e-mail and
internet chat rooms is an unacceptable invasion of privacy, and a
reprehensible method of gathering evidence for prosecution of a
News of Mr Li's arrest came just days after US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that China was not doing enough to improve its human rights record.
"We hope the (US) Government will take particular note
of this case and press for the immediate release of Li
Zhi," Mr Liu said.