[JURIST] Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] spoke to a reporter [Reuters report] from Reuters Sunday verifying that he is alive and is living in Wutai mountain in China's Shanxi province. Gao, who had been missing for more than a year, said he had been released last year and that he wanted to "live a quiet life for a while." Another Chinese human rights lawyer, Li Heping, said that he had also spoken to Gao and confirmed his identity. Gao still appeared to be under some form of restraint in his interview, however, since he would not give details of his location nor did he answer any detailed questions about his current situation.
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 that he was tortured [AP report] after being arrested earlier that year 2007. He 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. Gao had been most recently detained since February 2009.