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Officials Friday announced Chinese students abroad are welcome to come home "regardless of past political attitude," even though police this week seized a recently returned dissident for anti-government activities.

Authorities Tuesday detained Shen Tong - who returned to his communist homeland in August after three years of self-exile in the United States - hours before he planned to give a news conference about plans to resume pro-democracy activities.Friday, the official Xinhua news agency denied Shen, 24, had been arrested - claiming police only had him under "surveillance and investigation" at an unspecified residence. Authorities have told Shen's mother that her son is in "supervisory detention," but have not allowed her to see him.

Xinhua alleged Shen, who fled China in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, had engaged in "illegal activities in collaboration with foreigners" since returning home.

Before being seized, Shen had hoped to register a branch of his human-rights organization, the Democracy for China Fund based in Newton, Mass., with the Beijing government.

But Xinhua Friday called the fund an "illegal organization," and said Tuesday's incident had been "carefully planned abroad" to recharge the Chinese exile movement.

Shen's seizure has drawn widespread foreign condemnation.