Chinese author threatened with imprisonment over upcoming book on Chinese Premier

     A best-selling author, Yu Jie, who is a fierce critic of the Communist Party, has said that he was taken into custody by police on Monday and threatened with a stiff prison term if he goes ahead with plans to publish a book critical of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. According to the New York Times, the author maintained that he still intended to publish the book, titled "China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao," by autumn. Yu, who was released on Monday after interrogation, said that he was uncertain whether the agents' threat was serious, but that he willing to go to prison for his principles. "As a writer, I consider freedom of speech an essential part of my life," he said. "Without it I will be a walking corpse, with no meaning and no value," the paper quoted Yu, the author of 28 books, as saying. Yu has negotiated with a Hong Kong publisher as his books are banned in mainland China. The paper stated that the 36-year-old author was questioned for four hours on Monday by police officers and agents of Beijing's public security bureau who specialize in dealing with political dissidents. "One security agent told me that Wen Jiabao is not some ordinary guy and my criticism against him will be considered as harming state security and the national interest. If you insist on publishing this book, you will probably end up like Liu Xiaobo, who suffered imprisonment of many years,' Yu said. Liu, another writer and rights activist, was sentenced last December to 11 years in prison after leading a public movement calling for democratic reforms and an end to Communist Party rule. Yu was a best-selling writer in mainland China but his political views have led to the banning of his works. A populist style and expressions of concern for China's people have made Wen Jiabo by far the best liked of China's leaders, but Yu and other skeptics contend that the image only masks the authoritarian bent of China's leadership, the paper said.

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