[JURIST] Chinese lawyers and US-based rights group ChinaAid [advocacy website] on Friday called on [press release] Beijing police to conduct a search for missing Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng [JURIST news archive]. Police reported Thursday that Gao, who has been in police custody since February, went missing in September. Gao's brother, Gao Zhiyi, stated Thursday that police believe his brother "got lost and went missing while out on a walk." Suspicions abound among rights groups, however, that Gao has been tortured or killed.
Gao drew international attention in September 2007 when he wrote a letter [JURIST report] to the US Congress requesting assistance in improving human rights in China. Gao, who has also defended Christians and coal miners in China, claimed [AP report] that he was tortured after his arrest in 2007. Gao was originally part of the Chinese Communist Party and handled prominent cases involving the outlawed Falun Gong movement [Falun Dafa website], but fell into disfavor with the government in 2006 when he was convicted of subversion [JURIST report] and placed under house arrest. China has long received criticism [JURIST news archive] from watchdog groups for its treatment of rights activists such as Gao.