Veteran journalist Gao Yu was among at least half-a-dozen Chinese scholars and activists who have been detained in recent weeks in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, as the authorities moved to limit any discussion or remembrance of the sensitive event.

Ms. Gao, who is in her seventies and has long been a strong advocate of political reforms, had been detained on charges of leaking “state secrets” to a foreign news website, according to State media. She had been missing since April 24. She had participated in the June 1989 pro-democracy student protests on Tiananmen Square, which were violently suppressed leading to the deaths of several hundred people. Twenty five years later, the event is still sensitive in China. State media said authorities had seized evidence from the Beijing home of Ms. Gao, and added that she had made “confessions”. The Chinese government has often used the vague charge of “state secrets” to detain critics.

Human rights groups have called on the government to release Ms. Gao and other activists who have been detained in recent weeks. Human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who has taken up a number of sensitive cases, was taken away May 4.

Human Rights Watch reported that four others who attended were also detained, including activists Liu Di and Hu Shigen and scholars Xu Youyu and Hao Jian.

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