China releases human rights activist Hu Jia
BEIJING — China has released high-profile human rights activist Hu Jia after he completed a sentence of more than three years for subversion, his wife said in a Twitter posting early on Sunday.
“On a sleepless night, Hu Jia arrived home at 2:30 am. Peaceful, very happy. Need to rest for awhile. Thanks to you all,” Zeng Jinyan, also an activist, wrote on her Twitter account.
Hu was jailed in April 2008, just months before the Beijing Olympics, after angering the ruling Communist Party through years of bold and outspoken campaigning for civil rights, the environment, and AIDS sufferers.
Hu is the second prominent government critic to be released in a matter of days after outspoken artist Ai Weiwei returned to his home in Beijing following nearly three months in police custody amid a government rights crackdown.
However, Hu is expected to face tight restrictions similar to those applied to Ai and a range of other activists and rights lawyers recently released from detention, apparently with instructions to keep quiet.
After his release, Hu will face curbs on his activities that mean “he will not be able to meet with the media,” Zeng said on Twitter last week.
“During this time, he must treat his cirrhosis and take care of his family.”
Hu, 37, suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and Zeng has said the disease has worsened during his time in jail.
It was not immediately clear exactly what sort of restrictions Hu may face.
Zeng gave no further information in her latest Twitter posting and attempts to reach her by phone at the couple’s home outside Beijing were unsuccessful.
Police have told Zeng her husband is not likely to enjoy a “normal” life after his release, remarks she has interpreted to mean he will likely be confined to his home like numerous dissidents who have recently completed jail terms.
Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer who exposed abuses in the “one-child” population control policy, has been under house arrest in east China since September when he completed a prison term of more than four years.
New York-based activist group Human Rights Watch on Friday urged the Chinese government not to subject Hu, his wife and three-year-old daughter to “house arrest or other extrajudicial deprivations of liberty.”
Sophie Richardson, the group’s Asia advocacy director, said in a statement that another form of detention would “show just how shallow the Chinese government’s ‘rule of law’ commitments are.”
Usually very outspoken, the artist Ai has refused to talk about his detention or the conditions of his release, other than to say he cannot leave Beijing.
Other high-profile recent detainees have also, with few exceptions, uncharacteristically refused comment on how they were treated.
Activists say this indicates a new government strategy to silence dissenters, possibly through threats of further repercussions against them or their families.