İrem GÖL -TDO- Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who has jailed for four and a half years for subversion, has been released from prison but barred from reuniting with his wife and son in Beijing amid the coronavirus pandemic. His wife, Li Wenzu, fears that the authorities are using the pandemic as an excuse to hold him under de facto house arrest indefinitely. She said Wang has been released from prison but authorities had sent him to his hometown 400 km away from his home for quarantine. Wang called his wife from the prison yesterday telling her to refrain from going to meet him in prison. In a recording she posted on Twitter, Wang said he had to be quarantined for some time due to the pandemic.

Chinese authorities have been using compulsory quarantine as a pretext to detains or restrict the movements of government critics. In a practice dubbed “non-release release” by respected China law expert Jerome Cohen at the New York University, Chinese rights activists are often released from prison into de facto house arrest or enforced restriction to their native village, where they remain for years.

Wang, a lawyer who had taken on politically sensitive cases was sentenced to jail in January 2019 on the blanket charge of subversion of state power. He was one of more than 300 lawyers and activists detained in a wave of crackdowns started in July 2015. He was the last lawyer of the group to be convicted, with his trial taking place three and a half years after he was taken away by the authorities.

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