China releases cyberdissident

China releases cyberdissident

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Reuters
December 01, 2003, 10:02 GMT

A Chinese student who has spent a year in jail for criticising the government on the Internet has been released ahead of a visit to the US by the Chinese Premier, says a Hong Kong civil liberties group

China has released a young cyberdissident known as the "stainless steel mouse" after detaining her for more than a year for criticising the government, a Hong Kong rights group said Sunday.

Liu Di, 23, a former psychology major at Beijing Normal University who wrote under the computer name "Stainless Steel Mouse," was freed from Beijing's Qincheng prison on Friday, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Two other cyberdissidents, Wu Yiran, 34, and Li Yibin, 29, also were freed from a jail for political detainees on Friday, it said in a statement.

The release came just over a week ahead of a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to the United States. China frequently times releases of dissidents to coincide with important trips abroad or visits by world leaders.

Liu was bailed out on Friday afternoon, the centre said, saying the move amounted to freeing her because political detainees are rarely, if ever, released on bail.

Family members said earlier this month they expected the release after four officials from the Beijing Public Security Bureau visited her home to convey the news.

Liu became a high-profile symbol for democracy and free speech in China after her detention in November 2002, spawning online petitions with thousands of signatories calling for her freedom.

She wrote political satire about the ruling Communist Party and posted messages in Internet chatrooms calling for the release of online dissidents. Never formally charged, she was held at Qincheng Prison for political detainees.

"Liu Di's main wish is to go back to Beijing Normal and resume her studies," the centre said.

The centre said in early November that prosecutors had rejected police recommendations to indict Liu on broad charges of subversion due to lack of evidence.

Police also detained at least two people for organising online petitions for Liu's release. Du Daobin, a civil servant, was detained in October, while Luo Changfu, a 39-year-old laid-off worker, was sentenced to three years in prison.

China has been cracking down on Internet content -- from politics to za-odrasle-ography -- as the government struggles to gain control over the new and popular medium.

It has created a special Internet police force, blocked some foreign news sites and shut down domestic sites posting what it sees as politically incorrect literature.



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