"Xu Zhiyong and his fellow detainees have committed no crime".
China's President Xi Jinping, in return, reassured Britain that China's economy was still in good shape, as he attempts to prevent a decline in business confidence amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Another source, who spoke to AFP on the condition of anonymity, said Xu had been arrested in the southern city of Guangzhou.
The Beijing and Guangzhou metropolis law enforcement did not respond promptly to faxed requests for remark. 4 other people who had attended the collecting in December were arrested beforehand, Hua informed Reuters.
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Earlier this month, Xu had called on President Xi Jinping to resign, and criticised his handling of the coronavirus crisis and the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.
Xu Zhiyong's friends say he went into hiding in December previous year, when the authorities cracked down on a meeting of human rights lawyers and activists he had attended in the southeastern city of Xiamen.
"The coronavirus outbreak shows just how important values like freedom of expression and transparency are - the exact values that Xu has long advocated", Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.
Xu Zhiyong is known for his work on behalf of disadvantaged groups and his promotion of a "New Citizens" Movement', which he launched in 2012.
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In recent weeks, Xu had written many articles criticising Beijing's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 70,000 people in China and killed 1,770. He was previously sentenced to four years in prison on the charge of disturbing public order, according to Taro News.
"Medical supplies are tight, and the hospitals are overcrowded with people, and a large number of those infected are unable to have their cases verified", Xu wrote. "You say you individually directed the deployment, it is a mess".
Xi said China must "strengthen efforts to relieve the stress of medical workers, provide them with daily necessities, arrange a time for their rest and give them encouragement", the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Xu also criticized restrictions on Chinese media reporting of the epidemic centered in Wuhan and the rigorous lockdown actions carried out to consist of it.
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His majority-owned company subsequently was dismantled and absorbed by state-owned Rosneft in 2004 - then a tiny company. Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December 2013.