09/09/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Chen Guangcheng, blind activist, free after more than four years in prison

He denounced violence related to the one child law, with forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong. In prison he was sick but denied treatment. In recent years, his wife has been under house arrest and isolation, telephone controlled and internet disconnected.

Beijing (AsiaNews / CHRD) - The well-known human rights activist, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, was released today from prison in Linyi (Shandong) after serving a sentence of four years and three months. Chen was convicted of "intentionally damaging property and gathering crowds to disturb transport order ". In reality, he had reported forced abortions and sterilizations in campaigns for population control. He also helped local people to document the violence of the one-child law and prosecuted the perpetrators. His reports had led to public demonstrations.

Chen, 39, arrived home at 6 am this morning, transported by prison authorities. According to his friends and supporters he is tried, weak and thin. Since 2008 he has suffered chronic gastroenteritis, but was denied access to treatment in prison. He was also sometimes beaten by other prisoners.

Meeting friends and relatives this morning, Chen told them: "I have not changed at all ... I want to thank all my friends who are worried about me."

His wife, Yuan Weijing was always close to him. Because of this she was placed under strict surveillance, house arrest and solitary confinement. In recent years visitors or journalists who dared to come to her were stopped and beaten by police, her phone is kept under control and internet connection was cut over the past four years.

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