Mr Gao said he knew his decision would disappoint many, but insisted that he wanted to have "relative control" over his life.
The “main basis for choosing to give up is for the sake of [my] family,” he said. “I hope I can reunite with them. My children need me by their side growing up. [. . .] To me these are the three dearest people in the world and now, we're like a kite with a broken string.”
Gao, 44, was once the Communist Party’s model lawyer. A Christian, he became a human rights activist in the past few years, defending Christians, Uyghurs, Falun Gong members and other victims of abuse. In 2006, he was given a three-year suspended prison sentence, but was placed under house arrest until February 2009 when police took him away. After months of silence, he reappeared on 28 March of this year, when he spoke to reporters by phone, saying he was in northern China.
Yesterday when he met the AP journalist, he looked visibly thinner. It is not clear whether he is watched by police or under house arrest. His meeting with a foreign journalist was most certainly approved by Chinese authorities.
In addition to the interview, Gao also met with Rev Nob Fu, a Protestant clergyman who heads ChinaAid, which last year launched a campaign for his release.
“Gao is still not able to speak or move freely,” Fu said. “According to international norms and Chinese law, he has the right to travel overseas to reunite with his family and to be free [. . .]. We must call on the Chinese government to release Gao Zhisheng and permit him to reunite with his family in the United States.”