August 11, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Human rights lawyer freed on completing three-year jail term

Repeatedly detained since 2006, Gao Zhisheng remains under close surveillance
Reporters Without Borders notes that leading human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was released from Urumqi prison on 7 August on completing a three-year jail sentence for allegedly violating his conditions of release in 2011 after an earlier spell in prison. According to our sources, Gao continues to be closely watched despite his release. Before being sentenced in December 2011, he was successively reported missing, placed under house arrest and then detained in almost complete isolation. “While relieved by Gao’s release, we urge the Chinese authorities to lift all the surveillance to which he is being subjected so that he can fully enjoy his freedom,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific Desk. Gao has told his family that he will stay for a while in Urumqi for dental treatment before returning to Shaanxi, the province from which he comes. According to journalists who have contacted his family, Gao and those with him are under close surveillance. He has been in the government’s sights ever since refusing to renew his Communist Party membership in 2005, and has been detained repeatedly since 2006. China is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.