Chinese Activist Surfaces After Year in Custody and Conflicting Reports on His Status

The New York Times reports that Gao Zhisheng is no longer missing:

In a brief telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Gao said that he was no longer in police custody, but that he could not give any details of his predicament. “I’m fine now, but I’m not in a position to be interviewed,” he said from Wutai Mountain, the site of a well-known Buddhist monastery. “I’ve been sentenced but released.”

Since Mr. Gao disappeared into the custody of public security personnel in February 2009, the Chinese government has provided a series of contradictory and cryptic explanations of his whereabouts, despite entreaties by the United Nations, the White House and the European Union… A month before he disappeared last year, his wife and two young children evaded round-the-clock surveillance of their Beijing apartment and made an overland escape to Thailand. Granted asylum by the United States, they now live in New York… Reached on his cellphone, Mr. Gao sounded upbeat but guarded, suggesting that he had been instructed not to speak to the news media. He said that he was going to spend time with his extended family in Shanxi Province and that he had no plans to return to his work as a rights defender. “Right now I just need to calm down and lead a quiet life,” he said.

Then he turned melancholy and made an allusion to his wife and children in the United States. “They are like kites that have had their strings cut, and now they are floating far off into the sky,” he said before hanging up.

Lawyer Teng Biao today tweeted: “talked with Gao zhisheng himself.Gao is alive but I don\’t believe Gao is free.”

March 28, 2010 4:03 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Law, Society