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China rights lawyer flees to US after release

[JURIST] Chinese lawyer and professor, Chen Taihe, fled [press release] his country and arrived in San Leandro, California, the Dui Hua Foundation [advocacy website] said Monday. Chen was detained last July as part of a crackdown on rights lawyers that had culminated in at least 242 people detained or questioned nationwide. He was detained [RFA report] for "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble." Chen's wife and son previously fled to the US where another son was born. The case is unique because Chinese authorities have rarely released a political prisoner already detained and permitted the detainee to leave the country. In a statement released through the Dui Hua Foundation, an organization that works to free political prisoners in China, Chen said, "I am grateful to the Guilin police for dropping the charges against me and allowing me to be reunited with my family in the United States," and he thanked the US and his American friends for helping make it possible. Chen had been advocating for the adoption of the jury system in China.

Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed concern [JURIST report] over China's recent crackdown on lawyers and activists. Chinese state media recently criticized detained human rights lawyers for undermining the rule of law. In January Chinese authorities arrested [JURIST report] high profile human rights lawyer Wang Yu and her husband on charges of political subversion. Also in January Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] the Chinese government to overturn a verdict sentencing three human rights activists in the Guangdong province to up to five years in prison. In December Chinese authorities released [JURIST report] prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang after receiving a suspended sentence for "causing a disturbance" after he attended a weekend meeting that urged an investigation into the 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

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