China sends campaigning rights lawyer back to jail

16 December 2011 - 14:17 By REUTERS
Geng He, wife of jailed Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng with his image. File photo.
Geng He, wife of jailed Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng with his image. File photo.
Image: AFP PHOTO / Tim SLOAN

China has sent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng back to jail, state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday, ending his probation in what was the first official account of his whereabouts in the last year.

A combative rights advocate who tackled many causes anathema to the ruling Communist Party, Gao was sentenced to three years' jail in 2006 for "inciting subversion of state power", a charge often used to punish critics of one-party rule.

Gao was given five years' probation, formally sparing him from serving the prison sentence. But his family was under constant surveillance, and Gao was detained on and off over that period.

He was taken from his relative's home in Shaanxi province in northern China in February 2009 -- his family claims by security officers -- and had been missing since early last year, when he resurfaced briefly and made sporadic contact with friends and foreign reporters in April 2010.

Xinhua, in a brief English-language story, said a Beijing court "withdrew probation" on Gao and sent him back to jail.

"He had seriously violated probation rules a number of times, which led to the court decision to withdraw the probation," Xinhua cited a court statement as saying.

"He would serve his term in prison", referring to the three-year sentence, the report added.

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