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Call for release of detained dissident

Lawyer not free despite end of prison, probation terms

Mike MacLachlan, London
United Kingdom

August 15, 2011

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The wife of the dissident Chinese Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng has appealed again for his release at the official end of his period of detention and probation. Gao was arrested on August 15, 2006, charged with subversion and given a three-year suspended prison sentence and five years’ probation. The probation period ended yesterday but Gao has not been seen since April last year. “This August 14 … should be the date when you regain freedom,” his wife, Geng He, wrote in a letter published by the rights group ChinaAid. She said she had been “looking forward to this day and to hearing your voice and to our family being reunited.  The whole family looks forward to this day!” But he has not reappeared. Gao’s brother, Gao Zhiyi, confirmed yesterday that he was still missing. “There has been absolutely no word from him,” he told the DPA news agency. “The family is very worried.” Gao, who has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, was held for questioning in February 2009 and was not seen for a year, resurfacing in Shanxi province in March 2010. A few days later, he met the media and said he had abandoned his criticism of the government in the hope of being reunited with his wife and two children, who had secretly fled to the United States. In April 2010 Gao's family reported that they had not heard from him since he returned from visiting relatives in Xinjiang 10 days previously. “Gao’s life and work continue to be an inspiration to many around the world who speak out against injustice,” Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of the British-based rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said at the weekend. “His disappearance has lasted too long and represents a grave denial of rights to a Chinese citizen. CSW calls upon the Chinese government to release Gao Zhisheng and all those under house arrest in China for daring to speak up for injustice.”

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