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Asia-pacific

China frees human rights lawyer

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-30

China has released human rights lawyer Teng Biao (pictured), more than two months after he disappeared amid a campaign to stamp out online calls for protests inspired by events in the Arab world.

AP- China has released a crusading rights lawyer who disappeared, apparently into police custody, more than two months ago in a massive security crackdown aimed at preventing any Middle East-inspired unrest.

Teng Biao returned home Friday afternoon but it was not convenient for him to speak with the media, said his wife, Wang Ling. She declined to comment on his physical or mental well-being.

Teng’s release follows that of several other lawyers and activists in recent days after weeks in which hundreds of people were detained, confined at home, interrogated or simply vanished. Another prominent civil rights lawyer, Li Fangping, was taken away Friday after he left a meeting with a group that fights discrimination against people with hepatitis B, said the group, Yirenping, and human rights organizations. They did know who had taken him away.

Like Teng, other lawyers and activists released have also declined to speak to the media, perhaps as a condition of their release and raising questions about their treatment while detained.

“It’s a relief that Teng Biao has been released after almost 70 days of unlawful confinement at the hands of China’s security forces, but we remain extremely concerned whether he has been the victim of torture at the hands of his captors,” Phelim Kine, a researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in an email. Kine said the whereabouts of 16 other lawyers and activists missing in the current crackdown are unknown and that they “remain highly vulnerable to torture while in custody.”

A law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, Teng was among the first people taken away as authorities moved to squelch protests following anonymous Internet postings urging Chinese to stage peaceful uprisings akin to the ones that unseated autocratic rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

After Teng’s disappearance on Feb. 19, police searched his home and seized two computers, a printer, articles, books, DVDs and photos of another rights lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Defenders said previously.

The most high-profile person targeted by authorities so far is famed Chinese artist and outspoken government critic Ai Weiwei, who had been keeping an informal tally of the recent detentions on Twitter before he disappeared early this month.

Meanwhile, a scholarly expert on China’s role in the Korean War jailed for more than a decade for spying will be released in June after his sentence was reduced further, a human rights group said.

The Intermediate Court in the southern city of Guangzhou has given scholar Xu Zerong a third sentence reduction, slicing five more months from his 13-year prison term, the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation said Thursday.

Xu, a Hong Kong native who also goes by the name David Tsui, had copied books and documents on the Korean War that he thought were declassified and had given them to a South Korean scholar, Dui Hua said.
 

Date created : 2011-04-30

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