Amnesty International said the recently released Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang may not be truly “freed.”
After serving a 4 1/2 year prison sentence for subverting state power, a euphemism for activities that the Chinese regime disapproves of, Wang was released on April 5.
Concerns“There are reasons to fear that Wang Quanzhang’s release from prison offers merely the illusion of freedom. The Chinese government has a history of monitoring and controlling human rights defenders even after they’re released from jail,” Doriane Lau, Amnesty’s China researcher, said in a statement on April 5.
In January 2019, Wang was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment, including the time he spent in pre-trial detention. Wang was incarcerated at a prison in Linyi, a city in eastern China’s Shandong province.
Wang’s family was continually denied visitation rights until June 2019, when his wife and son visited him briefly.
ReleasePrior to Wang’s release, his wife, Li Wenzu, wrote in an April 3 tweet that local police showed up at the workplace of Wang’s older sister and claimed that local quarantine policies surrounding the current epidemic would forbid the sister and her husband from picking up Wang on his scheduled release day of April 5.
Li said her husband was forced by prison officials to call her, trying to obtain her consent to have him travel on his own to Jinan, where she and their son live.
“Quanzhang made the call using a phone from a local community official. So he only said a few things. He told me that he will contact me once he has purchased a phone,” Li wrote.
At 5:40 p.m., Li said in a tweet that she had ordered food and flowers for her husband, which were delivered to him, but it was unclear whether they were reunited.
Amnesty said in its statement that it was not optimistic about Wang’s situation. “Today may mark the end of Wang Quanzhang’s unjust imprisonment, but the politically motivated campaign against him is only likely to enter a new phase. Despite his release, he will be subject to heavy surveillance and unable to return to the home where his wife and young child have been waiting for him for four and a half years,” Lau said.
She further called on authorities to give Wang full freedom. “It is an outrage that he was ever jailed in the first place, but now he has served his sentence the authorities must immediately lift all restrictions on him and allow him to return to his family home,” Lau concluded.