Mon, Mar 14, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Chinese dissidents freed after 10-year jail terms

LEAGUE Of GENTLEMEN:Jin Haike, Xu Wei and two other defendants, who became known as the ‘Four Gentlemen of Beijing,’ were convicted of subversion

AP, BEIJING

Two Chinese dissidents who were sentenced to 10 years in prison for getting together to talk about political reform and posting their views online have been released after completing their jail terms, their fathers said yesterday.

Xu Wei (徐威), a former reporter, and Jin Haike (靳海科), a writer, were detained in 2001 and convicted of subversion in 2003 after taking part in an informal study group in Beijing that met privately to talk about democratic reform.

Their fathers said that both were released on Saturday.

The harsh sentences given to the men were a sign that China’s intolerance of political dissent remains entrenched.

Friends and supporters had repeatedly sought medical parole for Jin, who underwent a botched appendectomy in prison, and suffered abdominal pain and other health problems.

His father, Jin Jianguo (靳建國), said his 33-year-old son planned to stay with his family for the next year or so while recovering.

Xu staged several hunger strikes in prison after clashing with prison guards and allegedly suffered mental problems, rights groups have said.

Xu’s father said that he only saw his son briefly on Saturday.

Jin, Xu and two other defendants, who became known as the “Four Gentlemen of Beijing,” were convicted of subversion based mainly on a batch of Internet postings that called for political reform.

“This was one of the first cases that involved an allegedly anti-government group organizing around the Internet,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, research manager for the US-based human rights group the Dui Hua Foundation. “In a way, it was a sign of things to come because the Internet since then has become the chief virtual space in which political discussions takes place [in China].”

The two other members of the group, Yang Zili (楊建利) and Zhang Honghai (張宏海), were released in 2009 after completing eight-year prison terms.

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