China has charged a key student leader of the crushed Tiananmen Spring democracy movement with counterrevolution and told his family that only they would be allowed to witness his closed trial, Chinese sources said Wednesday.

Word of the formal charge against Beijing University student Wang Dan, 21, was received in a brief notice sent Nov. 23 to his parents by the Beijing Public Security Bureau, family friends said.The charges brought to at least eight the number of jailed dissidents accused of counterrevolution for their roles in the democracy protests during the spring of 1989.

Two of the dissidents, editor Wang Juntao, 32, and economist Chen Ziming, 38, face trial on the additional charge of intent to overthrow the communist government, a serious crime carrying a long prison term or even death in extreme cases.