Leading Chinese dissident Liu Jingsheng, jailed since 1992, will be released from prison this week, his mother said yesterday.
"He told us over the phone that he will be released this Saturday," Liu's mother, who requested not to be named, told reporters.
"He said his term has been cut by two-and-a-half years," she said
Liu, who was detained in May 1992 and sentenced two years later on charges of "organizing and leading a counter-revolutionary organization" and "inciting counter-revolutionary subversion," was due for release in May 2007.
Liu is one of China's most prominent dissidents. He participated in the Democracy Wall movement in 1978 and published the underground magazine Exploration.
After the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in 1989, Liu and other dissidents established the China Freedom and Democracy Party and he also took part in an independent labor union movement.
China prohibits trade unions that are not attached to the state.
His 79-year-old mother said she was not sure about the reason for his early release but said Liu, 50, had been suffering from high blood pressure, heart and stomach problems.
"His teeth have been falling out, his health isn't good," she said, adding that Liu told her he had recently been allowed more freedom in prison, including making phone calls home.
"On the one hand I'm happy and we all hope he can come home soon, but on the other hand we have been under a lot of mental pressure throughout these years. He has brought us a lot of trouble," she said.
New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) applauded his early release and urged the government to show similar tolerance to other dissidents behind bars.
"We welcome Liu Jingsheng's early release and hope that he will soon return to health under the care of his family and qualified doctors," said HRIC president Liu Qing (劉青).