HONG KONG, Jan 15 – Chinese dissident Zhao Shiying has been detained by police in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, a possible sign that a crackdown against signatories of Charter 08 is continuing, say activists and rights groups.

Mr Zhao, who also uses the name Zhao Dagong, was detained by police on Monday after officers raided his home and confiscated two computers, books and notes, The International Pen rights advocacy group said in a statement.

The group added that Mr Zhao’s wife and two sons were taken to the local police station for questioning before being released.

”We call on the government to release Zhao Shiying immediately, and to stop propagating this campaign against all citizens of China who are simply expressing themselves peacefully in accordance with their rights under Chinese and international law,” said Anthony Appiah, president of the Pen American Center.

A rights activist and friend of Mr Zhao’s in Shenzhen, who declined to be named, confirmed that Mr Zhao had been detained.

The International Pen said in a statement that Mr Zhao may have been held because of his public support for jailed activist Liu Xiaobo, who was imprisoned for 11 years on Christmas day last year on a subversion charge after co-authoring Charter 08, a petition calling for broad political and democratic reforms.

Mr Liu, the most prominent critic of Communist party rule, was a co-author of Charter 08, a petition drafted in late 2008 calling for political and democratic reforms in China that was signed by hundreds of intellectuals and dissidents, including Mr Zhao.

Separately, a prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been in police detention for almost a year, has reportedly gone missing since September according to his brother, raising fears for his fate.

Mr Gao has been a constant thorn in the side of the Beijing authorities, drafting open letters to senior Chinese leaders demanding an end to the persecution of religious believers including members of the Falungong group.