1 May 2010

Mystery over missing human-rights lawyer

10:04 pm on 1 May 2010

The family of a Chinese human-rights lawyer who reappeared after being missing for a year say he has vanished again.

Gao Zhisheng, who has defended some of China's most vulnerable people, including banned religious groups, was secretly taken into custody in February last year.

He resurfaced last month, the BBC reports, but was vague about what had happened to him. Now his family say they haven't been able to contact him for 10 days.

Li Heping, a fellow lawyer, told the South China Morning Post that Mr Gao had gone to visit his father-in-law in Urumqi, the capital of western Xinjiang region, in early April but was arrested after one night and taken away by police and reportedly put on a plane to Beijing.

"After he got off the plane no one knows where he went," Mr Li told AFP.

"A lot of his friends and colleagues fear that he could have been taken back into police custody."

Mr Gao was charged with subversion in 2006 but given a suspended sentence and is not believed to have been charged again during his disappearance.