Wu Changlong was handed a suspended death sentence alongside Chen Keyun after being convicted of a 2001 bombing that killed one person outside the offices of the ruling Communist Party's graft-busting body in the southeastern city of Fuqing. The pair maintained their innocence, and indeed their conviction was overturned by the Fujian Provincial Higher People's Court, and later reinstated on the basis of what they said were forced confessions under torture.
His case was heard once again by the Fujian Higher People's Court in April 2011, this time assisted by a number of top human rights lawyers. One full turn of the Chinese zodiac later, Wu returned home in time to welcome in the Chinese Year of the Snake on Feb. 10, 2012. His sister Wu Huaying told RFA how the family reacted:
This morning at 8:00 a.m. I got a call from the Fujian Provincial Higher People's Court, informing me that I could go to the detention center to pick up my brother, who was getting out in a short while. They said they would tell me where to meet them so my brother could go home and celebrate Chinese New Year with us.
When I put the phone down, I just held my mother right there and cried. All the tears we had been holding back for 12 years came flooding out all at once. Later, when I saw my brother, they were holding him and crying too. We have all of us been looking forward to this day for the past 12 years. All of us just wanted my brother to come home. I am all out of tears now. All I can do now is be calm and think about how best to support my brother. I would also like to thank the Fujian Higher Court for this.
He's not allowed to go out, or if he does, we have to let them know. He went in when he was just in his twenties, and now he's a middle-aged man. He's not the sunny-faced younger brother I once knew. He's nearly 40, and he's very worried about everyone in the family. His health is deteriorating, too.
Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.