[JURIST] The Chinese Embassy [official website] in Washington DC claims that prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], missing for more than a year, is working in the Urumqi region [press release], according to human rights organization Dui Hua Foundation [advocacy website] on Saturday. The statement characterizes the information as "sparse," and it contradicts Gao's family by declaring that the activist has been in contact with his wife and family members. Chinese Foreign Ministry [official website, in Chinese] spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu [official profile] said [JURIST report] in late January that Gao is "where he should be." Earlier in January, Chinese lawyers and US-based rights group ChinaAid [advocacy website] called on [JURIST report] Beijing police to conduct a search for Gao.
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. He was convicted of subversion [JURIST report] and placed under house arrest in 2006. China has long received criticism [JURIST news archive] from watchdog groups for its treatment of rights activists such as Gao.