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The letter also criticizes government moves to block leftist websites and clamp down on dissenting voices in the Bo scandal.

“Are these not barbaric acts that flagrantly violate our constitution and laws and shameful acts that completely departing from the principle of the rule of law and the people’s democratic spirit?” the letter says.

Mr. Liu elaborated in an email that moves to shut down discussion of the Bo case appeared to subvert the legal system in order to carry out a political purge.

Signatories include Gong Xiantian, a law professor at the prestigious Peking University, who confirmed in an email that he signed the letter. Exiled dissidents Wang Xizhe and Gao Han, living in the United States, also confirmed their signatures. Mr. Wang and Mr. Gao do not identify themselves as leftists.

Mr. Gong said the letter should not be seen as a criticism of China’s legal system, only of the “illegal” handling of the Bo case.

“Our system has its shortcomings, but no system exists without shortcomings,” he said.

Mr. Liu said that he met with authorities in his city Saturday to discuss the letter but that they decided that he was patriotic and a supporter of the party and told him he was safe. They asked him not to publicly issue the letter but that it was OK to forward it to the congress.

Associated Press researcher Flora Ji contributed to this report.