(New York, NY) — Chinese authorities arrested artist Yang Licai, likely because of posts he made online in support of Hong Kong protesters. PEN America today said his arrest is part of the government’s ongoing crackdown against artists and activists. Yang was arrested in Shenzhen by police from his hometown Panshan in Liaoning Province on December 11 on charges of inciting disruption. Those charges could land him in prison for up to five years. Police also raided his home and seized his computers, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Prominent Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei also posted about the arrest.

“The arrest of Yang Licai is an assault on free speech and artistic freedom. It’s part of an alarming crackdown against Chinese activists and artists involved in pro-democracy protests, who bravely stand up for human rights on a daily basis in the streets of Hong Kong and mainland China,” said Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “Yang has long used his art to question systems of power. Police previously targeted him after he signed Charter 08, written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Yang is no stranger to police harassment. PEN America calls for his immediate release, and for the Chinese authorities to allow his and other critical voices to be heard.”

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.