Chinese anti-graft protest leader arrested for taking bribes: Xinhua

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - A former leader of a Chinese village who was democratically elected five years ago after taking a stand against corruption has been arrested for taking bribes, said Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

Lin Zuluan, one of the Wukan village protest leaders in 2011 whose calls for an uprising attracted global attention, had called for fresh protests in June against new land grabs and graft in the fishing village in Guangdong province.

His arrest is the latest move on the core group of Wukan village protest leaders from 2011.

The local prosecutor of Lufeng City said Lin had accepted a substantial amount in bribes for village projects since 2012. Lin admitted to accepting bribes in a video last month, Xinhua said late on Thursday.

Lin had been in police custody since June 18 after he was arrested by SWAT officers who stormed his walled compound after midnight, his wife Yang Zhen told Reuters.

Reuters was unable to contact Lin and it wasn’t clear whether Lin had legal representation after two lawyers hired by his family were blocked by authorities from taking on his case.

In 2014, two former deputy village chiefs were jailed for two and four years respectively for bribery, around the time of another village election. Those who knew the men said they were framed.

Another leader fled China and sought asylum in the United States, fearing for his safety amid what he told Reuters was “political persecution”. Two others quit and a former accountant has an arrest warrant on his head, village sources said.

The Lufeng government said in its statement to Reuters that it “has not discovered any situation of unfair suppression or punishment” of Wukan’s protest leaders, or of undermining village rights and interests.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Michael Perry