01/05/2007, 00.00
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Lawyer Gao Zhisheng under tight police surveillance

Condemned for “subversion”, the human rights activist now risks being marginalized by his family, which is also being watched.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Lawyer and activist, Gao Zhisheng, has gone to visit Jia, his birthplace in Shaanxi, under strict police surveillance. It is the first time he has been seen since his release and trial that ended on 13 December last year.


Gao, one-time model lawyer of the Communist Party, gradually became a human rights campaigner, defending Christians, Uighurs, members of Falun Gong, and other victims of abuses. Last month, he was condemned to three years in prison - suspended for five years – after being found guilty of “subversion against the state”. He was also stripped of his political rights for one year.


The court claimed that Gao made a full “confession”. The judges decided the lawyer was engaged in “subversion” on the basis of nine articles he signed that were published on internet sites. Three open letters to President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in which Gao called for religious freedom and less corruption, apparently proved to be crucial.


Friends said Gao went to Shaanxi to visit his elder brother Gao Zhiyi to try to calm him about his plight. He has also visited his sister in Shandong and will soon return to Beijing. His activist friends fear that his suspended sentence and alleged “confession” could prompt Gao Zhisheng to withdraw and to cut back on his involvement.


Hu Jia also believes Gao’s family may be sidelining him for fear of possible consequences. The entire family of the lawyer is under police surveillance.

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