UN officials urge China to free rights lawyer Gao
UN officials on Friday called on China to release of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been sent back to prison for three years.
"It is alarming that Mr Gao continues to be arbitrarily detained," said El Hadji Malick Sow, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
"His detention over the years has resulted in various human rights violations, including his fundamental right to a fair trial. I urge the authorities to release Mr Gao," Sow said.
"Under no circumstances should Mr Gao be subjected to attacks, including arbitrary detention", Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said.
The official Xinhua news agency said last Friday that Gao had been sent back to prison after a court ruled he had violated the terms of his probation.
Gao -- who defended some of China's most vulnerable people including Christians and coal miners -- was arrested in February 2009 and has been held incommunicado by the authorities.
He briefly reappeared in March last year when he was apparently released by police, speaking with a few friends and colleagues, many of whom reported that he continued to be tailed by authorities and was in ill-health.
A month later, he disappeared again and has not been heard from since.
© 2011 AFP