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Monday, February 15, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Chinese dissident gets medical parole

Gao Yu: Previously detained for her role in the 1989 protests

By Duncan Hewitt in Beijing

A prominent Chinese dissident who was jailed on charges of leaking state secrets to the Hong Kong media has been released, eight months before the end of her six-year sentence.

Gao Yu, a 56-year-old freelance journalist, was freed on medical parole after relatives warned that her health was failing.

International human rights groups, backed by some Western governments, have been campaigning for her freedom.

Her family had long appealed for her release on medical grounds and said she needed treatment for a heart condition.

Speculation had grown that she would soon be freed after she was recently moved to a prison closer to her home.

According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, she was sent home on medical parole.

Mediating between students and authorities

[ image: Gao Yu played a part in mediating between demonstrators and authorities]
Gao Yu played a part in mediating between demonstrators and authorities
A prominent journalist, Gao Yu worked for a newspaper run by leading liberal intellectuals involved in China's 1989 pro-democracy movement and she played a part in mediating between student demonstrators and the authorities that year.

She was subsequently detained for more than 12 months.

After her release she worked as a freelance journalist and it was information contained in articles she wrote for a Hong Kong magazine which led to her arrest in October 1993 shortly before she was due to leave for the United States to take up a one year fellowship at Columbia University.

'No major change of policy'

Gao Yu always denied that the information, including a speech by President Jiang Zemin and details of government policy, involved state secrets.

Dissident groups said they did not believe that her release heralded a major change of policy.

With China facing a year of sensitive anniversaries, including that of the 1989 protests, the government has made it clear it will take a tough line against dissent and has recently jailed a number of prominent activists.

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