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Jailed China tainted milk activist paroled

Jailed China tainted milk activist paroled

A Chinese activist who was jailed for protesting a massive tainted milk scandal apparently has been freed on medical parole, though his former lawyer said Wednesday he may have been coerced into a deal in which he must stay silent.
Zhao Lianhai, whose son was among scores of children sickened in one of China's worst food safety scandals, was sentenced last month to two-and-a-half years in prison for inciting social disorder. He had campaigned for compensation for families of those killed or sickened by milk and milk products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.
Zhao announced on his blog Tuesday that he was currently hospitalized on medical parole and was sorry for critical remarks he'd made about the Chinese government in the past.
Zhao's former lawyer Li Fangping said he could not confirm whether the message was genuine because he'd been unable to get in touch with Zhao or his wife. Phone numbers for the couple were not working Tuesday or Wednesday.
Li said he believes the note was written under pressure from authorities who may have given Zhao his freedom in exchange for his silence.
"If he wrote it, it must be that he did so under pressure and was expressing views that aren't his own because it's a complete reversal from what he was saying a month ago, so my personal opinion is that this message is not a reflection of his real views and it's very strange," Li said.
Zhao first vowed to fight his conviction, said he would go on a hunger strike and signed legal forms for an appeal. But he later dropped the appeal and abruptly dismissed Li and another lawyer via a note delivered by prison authorities.
The note on Zhao's blog also said he admitted his guilt and hoped that people would stop discussing his case. He added that he wanted to be left alone.
"I support and thank the government and I feel deeply sorry for the remarks I made against the government in the past," the message added.


Updated : 2020-12-01 04:53 GMT+08:00