Chinese Lawyer 'Released' But Still Under State Control


2014-08-08
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china-gao-zhisheng-nov-2005.jpg Gao Zhisheng during an interview at his office in Beijing, in a file photo.
AFP

Authorities in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang have placed a tight security cordon around prominent dissident and rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was released this week after serving his latest prison term of nearly three years, his wife said on Friday.

Geng He, who fled with the couple's children to the U.S. in 2009 following years of official harassment, told a news conference she had finally been able to speak to her husband following his release.

"He should be granted true freedom, and police shouldn't be following him around all day, every day," Geng said. "He should be free to seek medical treatment and to see his family."

She called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to allow Gao to seek medical treatment in the U.S.

"My sister told me that his teeth are ruined; that the lower four incisors are very wobbly, while three at the top aren't good, either," Geng said.

"This shows that during those three years in Shaya Prison, Gao Zhisheng was tortured, and received no medical attention of any kind."

"In a humanitarian spirit, they should let Gao Zhisheng come to the U.S. to seek medical treatment and to get his teeth fixed," Geng said.

"I and the children have our home here now, and I hope that Gao Zhisheng will be able to be reunited with us in the U.S.," she added.

"The first thing he asked, after finally returning home after being kidnapped and disappeared countless times, and after three years in jail, was about my health," Geng said. "I said, what about your health?"

Meanwhile, Gao's friend and fellow rights activist Hu Jia said he was unlikely to be given a say in where he went next.

"We haven't confirmed yet whether he is going back to northern Shaanxi province yet, but I think that's the most likely outcome [rather than Beijing]," Hu said. "[He'll probably] go back to his parental home."

Rights lawyer

Once a prominent lawyer lauded by the Communist Party, Gao fell foul of the government after he defended some of China's most vulnerable people, including Christians, coal miners, and followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

In 2006, Beijing authorities arrested Gao and handed him a three-year jail term for "inciting subversion" that was later suspended for five years. But over the following five years, Gao repeatedly suffered forced disappearances and torture.

In December 2011, China's official Xinhua news agency said in a terse announcement that Gao had been imprisoned for three years for repeatedly violating his terms of probation.

The announcement drew strong criticism from the United Nations, United States and the European Union, all of which have repeatedly called for Gao's release, and by overseas rights groups, including Amnesty International.

Gao's wife, Geng He, and fellow activists say they fear the authorities may decide to whisk Gao off into secret detention, given the sensitive nature of the cases he defended.

Reported by C.K. for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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