The wife of prominent Chinese rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong has called on the government to allow him to travel overseas to seek medical treatment following the end of his jail term last week.
Authorities in the central province of Henan allowed Jiang, 48, to return to his parents' home three days after his release at the end of a two-year jail term for "incitement to subvert state power."
But his U.S.-based wife Jin Bianling said she is concerned for his health after he was tortured by cellmates in a bid to get him to "confess" to the charges against him.
“I would like to have Jiang Tianyong come to the U.S. to seek medical treatment," Jin said. "I hope that international rights organizations will carry on ... calling for freedom for Jiang Tianyong and the other human rights lawyers."
She said her husband has shown signs of ill-health since his return to his parental home, where he remains under close surveillance by state security police.
"I asked Jiang Tianyong why he always has tears in his eyes, and he told me he didn't know, and that perhaps it was to do with the fact that he hadn't been allowed outside in a very long time," Jin told RFA. "He told me he couldn't sit up straight, but could only sit sideways or lie down."
Jiang had blamed his poor health on torture and ill-treatment while in prison, which included being forced to sit on cold, hard concrete for long periods of time, she said.
"He told me that there were some bastards in there who treated him very cruelly to get him to confess," Jin said. "They tortured him, and they made him sit on hard, cold concrete for long periods of time."
"He was also forced to sit very still and not allowed to make a single movement for long periods of time," she said. "This destroyed his coccyx."
Jin said Jiang was only allowed to return to his parental home in Henan's Xinxiang city after he went on hunger strike in protest at being taken away immediately by state security police following his Feb. 28 release.
Jiang was eventually escorted back by state security police after refusing food for more than 36 hours, she said.
Jin said there are also concerns about her husband's mental health and pervasive memory loss.
"His memory has gotten really bad, which is a direct result of the psychological trauma he suffered," she said. "As a lawyer, his memory used to be excellent and his thinking very nimble."
"Now, there are many events and people that he has no memory of at all," Jin said. "He only remembers when you remind him."
London-based rights group Amnesty International reported last July that Jiang had seen a deterioration in his physical and mental health amid concerns that he was at risk of torture or other ill-treatment in Xinxiang Prison.
Rights activist Wang Qiaoling said she is very concerned about Jiang's state of health.
"He can't sit properly, only leaning to one side or the other, and he has memory loss," Wang said.
U.S.-based legal scholar Teng Biao said Jiang's treatment was similar to that meted out to many other rights lawyers detained in a nationwide crackdown begun in July 2015.
"Basically this is no different; he has been subjected to torture including sleep deprivation and beatings, and has been force-fed medication," Teng said. "Even back at the time of his trial, he looked like someone who had suffered mistreatment."
"It looks as if the authorities won't relax the restrictions on Jiang Tianyong any time soon," Teng said.
'Incitement to subvert'
Jiang, who pleaded guilty to "incitement to subvert state power" at the Intermediate People's Court in the provincial capital Changsha on Aug. 22, 2017, was sentenced in November 2017.
His sentence was based on his setting up of a campaign group in support of rights lawyers detained in a nationwide police operation targeting the profession since July 2015, the court said at the time.
He was accused of "speculating" on politically sensitive cases and "inciting others to illegally gather in public places" and "stirring up" public opinion, the indictment said.
Reported by Xi Wang for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Ng Yik-tung and Sing Man for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.