A Chinese journalist imprisoned for two years for posting politically sensitive essays on the Internet said yesterday he had been released.
Li Yuanlong (
Li said he was released on Friday upon completion of his prison term and insisted on his innocence.
"I have never done anything against my conscience, nor anything illegal ... I am innocent," he said.
Li, a reporter with the Bijie Daily newspaper in Guizhou Province, was picked up by state security agents at his office on Sept. 9, 2005.
He said he was indicted for criticism of the Chinese government evident in several of his articles, including one entitled "On Becoming an American in Spirit."
"I believe this day will not be far off; that socialism under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party will crumble," he wrote.
The piece held the communist regime responsible for the death of tens of millions of people under its "Fascist rule" since it took power in 1949.
He said his reporter status had been revoked and that he was barred from working at any state entities -- including the state media -- for at least two years.
Despite China's pledge to ease control over the media ahead of next year's Olympic Games, human and media rights groups say its leaders continue to tighten their crackdown on dissent amid increasing social unrest.
Paris-based campaign group Reporters Without Borders said at least 35 journalists as well as 51 cyber-dissidents were currently detained in China.
The watchdog ranks China 163rd out of 167 countries on its global press freedom index.
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