Sunday, August 23, 2009
The New York Times reported on August 23, 2009 that Chinese authorities unexpectedly released two political activists from detention on Sunday, including one whose case had drawn worldwide attention. Officials offered no reason for the releases, but they occurred one day after the new American ambassador to China, the former Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr., arrived in Beijing. The government made it clear it has also suspended criminal tax-evasion charges that were made last week against one of the freed men, Xu Zhiyong, a well-known public-interest lawyer, that could result in a prison sentence of seven years were he convicted. “It is difficult to say” whether the charges against him remain intact, Mr. Xu told The Associated Press after his release. Mr. Xu, 36, and a co-worker, Zhuang Lu, were released more than three weeks after they were seized in their homes on July 29.