Police raid prominent Chinese dissident's flat

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One of China's most prominent dissidents said Thursday police raided his flat while his four-year-old daughter was present, confiscating two computers and warning him against writing comments online.

Hu Jia, 38, was released from prison last June after completing a more than three-year sentence for subversion, but has vowed to continue his rights activism despite official efforts to muzzle him.

The raid comes at the start of what is expected to be a year of heightened tension as China gears up for a leadership transition in the autumn.

Hu -- a keen user of Twitter who has been deprived of his political rights for one year -- told AFP police accused him of violating two laws by publishing comments online, and took away his and his wife's computers.

He said he went to the police station in Tongzhou -- the Beijing district where he lives -- Thursday morning and was currently waiting for officers to question him. Tongzhou police refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

While avoiding to garner too much attention, Hu has still been outspoken on the Internet in his support for other dissidents such as blind activist Chen Guangcheng and lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who is being held in a remote prison.

He said his wife was away and he was home alone with his daughter when eight police officers came to his flat Wednesday evening.

"When I was detained last time (in 2007), a bunch of people entered my house like last night, and raided and searched the place, but my daughter was only 45 days old then and probably does not remember," he said.

"But now she's four, she understands a little more, and I'm worried adult squabbles can affect an innocent child so I made my daughter go to her room to read books and play with her Barbie dolls."

Hu said he had decided to pack a bag full of clothes so that friends could come and pick his daughter up if he were taken away by police.

Phelim Kine, senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said 2012 was expected to be "a fraught year of heightened police surveillance, harassment and detention of high-profile human rights activists and civil society activists."

Hu acknowledged the sensitivity of 2012 but said he was not scared.

"Authorities have directed all sorts of threats and violent tricks at me, but I have never looked back, I have never surrendered and never been scared," he said.