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Chinese Embassy Responds Regarding Kidnapped Christian Attorney Gao Zhisheng
Contact: Katherine Cason, 267-210-8278, Katherine@ChinaAid.org; Washington, D.C. Contact: Jenny McCloy, 202-213-0506, Jenny@ChinaAid.org; www.ChinaAid.org, www.MonitorChina.org
WASHINGTON, June 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- On May 18, Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong issued a letter regarding kidnapped Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng  in response to a March letter from U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan and U.S. Representative Sander Levin, Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Congressional -- Executive Commission on China, in which they required accountability from the Chinese government for Gao's disappearance. The core paragraph in the Ambassador's reply, released by Senator Dorgan's office, states that, according to his inquiry, "Gao received a three-year sentence, with five-years probation, and one-year deprivation of political rights on December 26, 2006 for violation of the Criminal Law. He is currently serving probation. The public security authority has not taken any mandatory measure against him."

Photo: Gao Zhisheng with his wife and children

ChinaAid founder and president, Bob Fu, responds, "This statement is a blatant attempt to cover up the truth of Gao's kidnapping, and a refusal to release his current whereabouts or condition. If he is currently on probation, where is he?  By stating that the public security authority has not taken any mandatory measure against him, the Chinese government is refusing to take responsibility for their abuses against Gao and is violating both China's Constitution and international human rights agreements."

The statement by Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong is consistent with the continual denial from the Chinese government regarding Gao's kidnapping. In a briefing in Beijing in March, Qing Gang, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said, "There's no political persecution or limits on the freedom of the family. We've handled the case in strict accordance with the law." This statement denies the two years Gao Zhisheng's family suffered under house arrest before their escape to the U.S. this past  March.  "House arrest" meant that the family was cut off from the outside world and multiple officers were assigned to each family member 24 hours a day. Gao's son, Gao Tianyu, was assigned three officers, the least number of officers. Gao's daughter, Gege, 16, was beaten by officers and the entire family endured harassment and abuse.

Gao Zhisheng, now missing 128 days, was kidnapped from his hometown in Shaanxi province early in the morning on February 4 by Chinese officials. Currently, his whereabouts are unknown. Gao has been previously kidnapped and tortured for his pursuit of human rights in China. Gao sent an open letter to the U.S. Congress dated September 12, 2007, and, afterward, was kidnapped and severely tortured by Chinese authorities for more than 50 days.  Though authorities threatened Gao with death if he revealed the torture he experienced, Gao chose to release publically the details of his experience. It is believed his current disappearance is a direct result of his refusal to be silent.  View a reenactment of Gao's torture experience in 2007 at www.FreeGao.com.

In a recent article by the New York Times, Laura Tischler, a State Department spokeswoman, said that a senior American official discussed the case on March 31 with high-ranking Chinese officials in Beijing, and that State Department officials had raised the case, most recently on April 15, with the Chinese Embassy in Washington. "The United States is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of well-known human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng," Ms. Tischler said. "We have raised our concerns about Mr. Gao's whereabouts and well-being repeatedly, both in Washington and in Beijing."

In response to inquiries about Mr. Gao's whereabouts from U.S. government officials and the international community, the Chinese government has never released Gao's current location or condition, nor have they acknowledged that he was taken into custody.

Contact your members of Congress and ask that they appeal to the Chinese government to urge accountability for Gao's whereabouts, his immediate release and guarantee his right to be free from arbitrary detention.

Visit www.house.gov/ and www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

Sign the petition for Gao’s immediate release at www.FreeGao.com.

Read a recent New York Times article on Gao Zhisheng and his family's escape to the U.S.

ChinaAid grants permission to reproduce photos and/or information for non-fundraising purposes, with the provision that www.ChinaAid.org is credited. Please contact: Katherine@ChinaAid.org with questions or requests for further information.