Chinese Activists Released
A pioneering Chinese legal rights advocate, who had been detained for more than three weeks and accused of tax evasion, was released on Sunday but might still face prosecution, he and his lawyers said.
Xu Zhiyong, co-founder of the Open Constitution Initiative, or Gongmeng, had been out of contact since he was seized from his home by security officials at dawn on July 29.
Xu, surrounded by friends and supporters after his release, said: “I think this outcome was the result of pressuring and urging from many friends and many quarters. We’ll have to see what it means, and we can’t entirely exclude the possibility of prosecution. But if that happens, I’ll defend myself vigorously.”
Zhou Ze, one of Xu’s attorneys, said the investigation might continue.
Update: The New York Times reports that Xu’s colleague Zhuang Lu was also released, as was Uighur writer Ilham Tohti:
Chinese authorities unexpectedly released three political activists from detention on Sunday, including one whose case had drawn worldwide attention.
Officials offered no reason for the releases, but they occurred one day after the new American ambassador to China, the former Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr., arrived in Beijing.
[…] Beijing authorities also released Ilham Tohti, an economist, Internet activist and ethnic Uighur who had been detained after deadly riots erupted in western Xinjiang region in early July.
Mr. Tohti, 39, ran a Web site called Uighur Online, a popular forum for ethnic Uighurs, who live mostly in Xinjiang, to discuss issues important to them. After the July rioting, Xinjiang’s governor, Nur Bekri, charged that the site had helped foment the violence by spreading rumors.