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Jailed human rights lawyer allowed visit by brother

UPDATE: Gao Zhisheng's wife calls for his release (Freedom House, 7 March 2013)

(RSF/IFEX) - 29 March 2012 - Reporters Without Borders is pleased to receive news of the well-known human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been the victim of a series of mysterious abductions and disappearances orchestrated by the Chinese authorities since February 2009. His brother, Gao Zhiyi, told Agence France-Presse yesterday that he was able to visit him a few days ago in Shaya prison in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. He did not, however, provide any additional details.

After resurfacing in March 2010, Gao Zhisheng went missing again the following month and nothing was known of his whereabouts until the official New China news agency reported on 16 December 2011 that he was being held in a prison, without saying which one. His brother finally reported on 1 January 2012 that he had just received an official letter saying it was Shaya prison.

Reporters Without Borders has been very concerned about Gao and raised his case in an open letter to Vice-President Xi Jinping on 15 February, during Xi's visit to the United States.

Enforced disappearance and mistreatment of detainees has become commonplace in China. Under amendments to the criminal procedure law approved two weeks ago, the authorities are supposed to notify relatives within 24 hours when someone is arrested. But the amendments also allow them to hold detainees incommunicado in a secret location when relatives cannot be found or when notifying them might hamper an investigation involving a terrorist threat or a threat to national security.

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