Ran Yunfei has been released almost six months after his arrest in Chengdu on February 19th. From the Associated Press:
Ran Yunfei was among the first detained amid the government’s recent expansive crackdown on dissent. He returned Tuesday night to his home in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern Sichuan province, said Wang Wei, his wife ….
Ran was an uncompromising voice for free speech before he was taken away in late February as anonymous online calls circulated for Chinese to imitate the uprisings sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East ….
… [A] court in Chengdu charged him in late March with inciting subversion of state power, but prosecutors recently sent the case back to police, said Ran’s friend Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent rights lawyer who spoke briefly to the blogger on Wednesday morning.
Pu said Ran was released into “residential surveillance” for a six-month period, under which he is not allowed to leave home or meet people without permission, and he may not speak publicly. Still, Pu welcomed Ran’s release as a sign the crackdown could be easing.
The New York Times explains Ran Yunfei’s writing and political stance:
Until his detention, in the city of Chengdu, Mr. Ran’s daily blog writings and micro-blog postings provided readers his thoughts on a range of topics, including the value of an uncensored media, the importance of charitable giving and his personal struggle with chronic back pain. Although he wrote about the so-called Arab Spring and his yearnings for a more open political system, he did not call on his followers to take to the streets against the ruling Communist Party.
Mr. Ran was a reluctant critic, saying he would rather be traveling, drinking wine and reading. “In a free country I would happily spend my life in the library doing research,” he said in one post. “But I live in a country where I cannot in good conscience merely live such a life. I feel that I have no alternative. I have to voice my criticisms of our messed up social reality. Otherwise I would be uneasy. I would not be able to sleep well.”
Hours earlier, Ai Weiwei had, apparently coincidentally, tweeted that “If you don’t speak for Wang Lihong, and don’t speak for Ran Yunfei, you are not just a person who will not stand out for fairness and justice; you do not have self-respect.”
Read more by and about Ran Yunfei via CDT.