Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

BEIJING (Dow Jones)--Chinese police have detained a woman who described how her mother was beaten to death in custody for refusing to abandon her faith in the banned spiritual practice Falun Dafa.

Zhang Xueling was arrested by police last Monday, her husband said over the weekend. Ms. Zhang had recounted the details of her mother's death to The Wall Street Journal for an article published Thursday. She had explained how her mother, Chen Zixiu, was beaten by local officials, shocked with cattle prods and forced to run barefoot through the snow after she refused to renounce Falun Dafa. Ms. Chen died in custody on Feb. 21.

The latest detention comes on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the group's explosion into the public consciousness. Tuesday marks one year since 10,000 Falun Gong members stunned China's Communist Party by surrounding the downtown Beijing compound where its leaders live to demand that the government recognize their practice as legitimate. Police have arrested hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners since launching a crackdown on the spiritual practice last July.

While many of Falun Gong's top leaders remain in detention, other adherents have continued to protest official treatment of their group. The government confirms that 85 people have been sentenced to prison for resisting the government's ban on what it calls an "evil cult." Human rights groups say that between eight and 15 practitioners have died in detention.

Ms. Zhang, who doesn't practice Falun Dafa, had confirmed many details of the beating and death of her mother, recounted by several Falun Dafa practitioners who witnessed the events. Ms. Zhang telephoned her husband, Ding Zhongyuan, Monday morning, just before police took her from their home in northeast China's Shandong province. Mr. Ding visited the local police station and was told that he couldn't visit his his wife, and that she would be held for 15 days for "undermining public security." He said police refused to explain what she had done wrong, but "I suppose it had something to do with talking to a reporter."

Before being detained, Ms. Zhang said that she was aware of the risks of talking to a foreign reporter, but that she wanted to tell her mother's story. "I don't know what else to do," she said.

Falun Gong is a regimen of slow-moving exercises similar to practices Chinese have used for centuries. The group also publishes literature that spreads the teachings of its founder, Li Hongzhi, who now lives in the U.S. While the group insists that it is apolitical, its large-scale protests over the past year have been viewed as a threat by China's leaders.