Prosecuters have charged public-interest lawyer Xu Zhiyong with tax evasion, continuing what some observers see as a crackdown on legal activitists, the New York Times reported. Xu is the founder of the Open Constitution Initiative, or Gongmeng, that has taken on a number of high profile civil rights cases. The center was closed in July for allegedly not paying taxes on a US$100,000 grant that it received from Yale University. But critics say the charges are part of Beijing’s efforts to shutdown independent activism in the country. If convicted Xu could face seven years in jail.