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China releases activist who supported HK democracy
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 26, 2017

Dissident bookseller 'freed' by China contacts family, friends say
Stockholm (AFP) Oct 27, 2017 - The dissident publisher Gui Minhai has finally spoken with his family after China said it had released him from detention, friends said Friday, but it is still unclear to what extent he is a free man.

Fears were raised for the 53-year-old Swedish citizen when he failed to contact family members after Chinese authorities said Tuesday that he had been released on October 17.

The Swedish foreign ministry announced Tuesday that it had been informed of his release but was still trying to contact him.

Gui was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for salacious titles about the lives of China's political elite who went missing in 2015 and resurfaced in detention on the mainland.

Swedish journalist and author Jojje Olsson, who is writing a book about Gui Minhai, told AFP that Gui had finally contacted his daughter Angela Thursday in a 40-minute phone call.

Olsson said Gui was in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo and had been able to meet his mother and sisters, citing a source close to the publisher.

When asked if she had received a call and whether she believed it was from her father, Angela told AFP: "A call did take place," without giving further detail about what was said.

"There are still many things that need to be clarified and I don't think we can jump to conclusions just yet," she said in an email.

Dissident poet Bei Ling, a friend of Gui's, also said Friday that Gui was in Ningbo and had been reunited with his wife, as well as his mother and elder sisters.

"A few days ago, he personally called the Swedish consulate in Shanghai, in Swedish, and will apply for a new passport soon," he added, without revealing his sources.

Bei said that Gui would go back to his home in Germany after spending "enough time" in Ningbo, but only with the permission of Chinese police.

"I cannot say if he has the freedom to leave, I wish for his full freedom!"

Rights groups believe he is still under close surveillance and have called for his full release.

Gui disappeared in 2015 while on holiday in Thailand and had been detained at an undisclosed location in China ever since.

In February 2016 Gui appeared on Chinese television, weeping as he confessed to involvement in a fatal car accident years before.

In another interview the same year, he also admitted trying to smuggle illegal books into China.

The Chinese foreign ministry told AFP Tuesday that Gui had been released after serving out his jail sentence over "a traffic accident".

A spokeswoman for the Swedish foreign ministry told AFP Friday that they were "following the situation" and in touch with Chinese authorities.

A Chinese activist who was imprisoned after speaking out about women's rights and Hong Kong's democracy movement has been released after serving three years in jail, her lawyer said Thursday.

Su Changlan, a 47-year-old primary school teacher was first detained in southern Guangdong province on October 26, 2014 after making comments on social media in support of democracy protests in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.

"Su Changlan has returned home after her release," lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said in a statement on Twitter.

Liu has previously claimed that his client was held illegally for years before she was formally convicted and sentenced in March 2017 for "inciting subversion of state power."

Her case drew international attention at a time when Beijing was ramping up its crackdown on civil society, targeting everyone from human rights lawyers to celebrity gossip bloggers.

More than 200 Chinese lawyers and activists were detained or questioned in a police sweep in 2015 that rights groups called "unprecedented".

In a statement Thursday, Amnesty International said that Su's health had deteriorated in "cramped" and "unhygienic" prison conditions, and she now suffers from debilitating heart, liver and gallbladder conditions.

"It's a relief that Su Changlan will not spend another night in jail, but she should never have been denied her freedom in the first place," said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International's East Asia research director.

"It is imperative that the authorities ensure that Su Changlan can receive the appropriate medical care," Rife said.

Su could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Lawyer Liu said he didn't have much information about her health problems.

"Her family members informed me and her friends today that Su was released and sent a photo of her. They didn't talk about other things," Liu told AFP.

Rights groups say a pattern has emerged in recent years where China releases dissidents from prison in poor health, or only weeks before they pass away, with late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo being a notable example.

The veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests died in July, more than a month after he was transferred from prison to a heavily-guarded hospital to be treated for late-stage liver cancer.

Meanwhile, concern is growing over the whereabouts of book publisher Gui Minhai, who failed to contact his family after Chinese authorities said they had released him from detention on October 17.

The Swedish foreign ministry said it had been informed by China of Gui's release and was trying to contact him.

The 53-year-old Swedish citizen and Hong Kong-based publisher, whose company was known for salacious titles about the lives of China's political elite, disappeared in 2015 while on vacation in Thailand.

China's Xi welcomes 'objective' media at restricted event
Beijing (AFP) Oct 25, 2017
President Xi Jinping Wednesday encouraged members of the press "to visit and see more of China" when he unveiled his new leadership - but five Western media outlets were excluded from the event. Journalists bearing a deep red invitation, with "The Great Hall of the People" emblazoned in golden script, arrived to watch Xi formally begin his second term and introduce his ruling council. B ... read more

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