[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

China frees human rights lawyer

Gao Zhisheng, who defended Christians and coal miners, is released after three-year jail sentence.

Last updated: 07 Aug 2014 21:56
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The jailing of Gao Zhisheng, second from right, was criticised by the UN, the US and the European Union [AP]

A Chinese human rights lawyer whose secret detention and alleged torture by Communist authorities prompted an international outcry has been released after a three-year jail sentence, his wife and a relative said.

Gao Zhisheng, who defended some of China's most vulnerable people including Christians and coal miners, has been held largely incommunicado since 2009.

"He is out [of jail], but he has not returned home - he's at his father-in-law's house in Urumqi," a close relative of Gao told AFP by telephone, referring to the capital of the far-western region of Xinjiang where the lawyer had been serving his sentence.

The relative added that Gao's health was "normal, quite good", but asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

It was not clear whether Gao, 50, will still be subject to some form of house arrest as he has been previously.

His wife Geng He, who now lives in the United States, told AFP she had spoken to Gao following his release but was worried that he had been "tortured" in jail.

"Five of his upper teeth are very loose, and three lower ones are bad, my sister said he has to break bread into little pieces before he can eat it."

Beijing-based activist Hu Jia said a relative of Gao told him the lawyer would stay in Urumqi to receive treatment because his "teeth are in a bad condition" before returning to his hometown in the northern province of Shaanxi.

Gao was convicted of "subversion of state power" in 2006, and given a suspended sentence of three years in prison. He was immediately placed under house arrest and put on probation for five years.

In 2009 he was detained by Chinese security officers and held in secret for more than a year, with his family not told of his whereabouts.

After returning home for a month in March 2010, he went missing again. State media said in 2011 that he had been sent back to jail for three years after a Beijing court said he had violated his probation terms.

The decision was criticised by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, which repeatedly called for Gao's release, and by rights groups such as Amnesty International.

374

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.