The wife of Lu Guang, an internationally renowned Chinese photojournalist who mysteriously disappeared last month, confirmed his arrest on Thursday.
Lu Guang, who went missing last month in Xinjiang province, home to most of the nation’s Muslim Uighur minority, became the source of international speculation over his disappearance. Lu’s wife Xu Xiaoli, who resides in the United States, told the South China Morning Post that police told family members in China of her husband’s arrest but did not offer further details.
“We can’t tell the specific charge,” Xu said. “We just hired a lawyer for him in Beijing because it’s convenient to go to Xinjiang from Beijing. The lawyer filed an application to the authorities asking for a meeting with Lu Guang, which was not granted.”
Lu’s arrest came after he traveled to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang capital, in late October at the invitation of a friend to attend a number of photography events.
“The friend who invited Lu to Xinjiang was also taken away by the police, I have no further information about him.” Xu wrote on her Twitter account.
Lu is a familiar name in both Chinese and international media, having won the World Press Photo award three times. A green card holder in the United States, his work appears critical of the Chinese government, particularly with regards to their aggressive industrialization and lack of environmental regulation.
His work also seeks to shine a light on those on the margins of Chinese society, be they peasants, farmers, coal miners, or drug addicts. He won his contest back in 2004 for his work on the lives of poor Chinese villagers who became infected with HIV after selling their blood to earn a living.
His work appears to have upset senior figures with the Chinese Communist Party, who regularly arrest those deemed critical of the regime or showing off the negative aspects of life in the country.
In an interview with the Associated Press last month, his wife Xu said that her husband had never previously had problems with the police.
“He has a strong sense of social responsibility,” she said. “He believed, after confronting the faces of the destitute, that there were things that people should know. At the very least, he believed that (his photos) might motivate them to help others, to trigger change and make things better.”