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China releases dissident traced in Internet posting

A Chinese dissident jailed ten years ago after an Internet giant disclosed his identity has been released in Beijing. Wang Xiaoning's wife said her husband remained innocent and he should not have been imprisoned.

Yu Ling said on Friday that Wang's political rights remained suspended by Chinese authorities for a further two years while at home. He had left Beijing's Municipal No 2 Prison "only to enter a big prison" under close surveillance by police, Yu said.

"He didn't commit any crime. He just expressed his own opinions," she said, referring to Wang's arrest in September, 2002, on a charge of "inciting subversion of state power." He was formally sentenced a year later to 10 years in jail.

In 2007, the US Internet provider Yahoo! paid compensation to Wang's wife who took legal action in a court in California. Executives for Yahoo! had testified twice before the US Congress, claiming that the concern had been legally obliged to divulge user information to Chinese authorities. Yahoo! initially claimed that it was unaware that its disclosures would be used to convict dissidents but later apologized.

Appeals for democracy punished

Wang, an electronics engineer, had posted online articles in 2000 and 2001 that criticized China's ruling Community Party and appealed for multi-party democratic reform.

Portrait photo of another jailed dissident Shi Tao (Moderne Handelszeitung)

Like Wang, poet and journalist Shi Tao was jailed for 10 years

An advocacy group Human Rights in China, which has bureaus in New York and Hong Kong, said on Friday that Wang's conviction was based on information provided by Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Limited. At least three other Chinese dissidents were similarly convicted, it said, including the poet and reporter Shi Tao in 2005.

In Beijing, Yu said her husband Wang was in a "good mental and physical state" but unavailable for interviews while resting at the couple's home.

ipj/ rc (AFP, dpa)

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