China rights lawyer in remote jail, brother says

AP News
Posted: Jan 01, 2012 3:12 AM
China rights lawyer in remote jail, brother says

Chinese authorities have jailed prominent lawyer and outspoken government critic Gao Zhisheng in a remote prison in the far western Xinjiang region, his brother said Sunday.

The whereabouts of Gao, who earlier said he had been kidnapped and tortured by Chinese authorities, had been unknown for 20 months until state media reported last month he was being sent back to prison for three years for violating his probation.

The official Xinhua News Agency did not say exactly where Gao was being held in its Dec. 16 report.

His brother, Gao Zhiyi, said he finally received an official notice of the court's decision by mail on Sunday.

He said the document stated that his brother is being held in the Shaya County Prison in Xinjiang.

A telephone operator said the phone number for the Shaya prison was restricted and couldn't be released to the public. An officer with the Shaya County Public Security Bureau said he didn't know anything about Gao's case.

Gao was a galvanizing figure for the rights movement, advocating constitutional reform and arguing landmark cases to defend property rights and political and religious dissenters. Convicted in 2006 of subversion and sentenced to three years, he was released on probation before being taken away by security agents in 2009 in the first of his forced disappearances that set off an international outcry.

Gao was held incommunicado in apparent disregard of laws and regulations for all but two months of the last three years. When he emerged from the first 14-month period in April 2010, he told The Associated Press that he had been shunted between detention centers, farm houses and apartments across northern China and had been repeatedly beaten and abused.

He said he had been hooded several times, and that his captors made him sit motionless for up to 16 hours and threatened to kill him and dump his body in a river.

While he was missing, Gao's case was raised by the U.S. and European governments, drawing cryptic responses from Chinese officials.