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Last Updated:  Sunday, 2 March, 2003, 06:02 GMT
China frees dissident
Chinese police
China allegedly kidnapped Zhang Qi from inside Vietnam

A US-based Chinese dissident detained in south-west China for eight months has been released and sent to the United States, human rights activists say.

Zhang Qi was held in the city of Chengdu after allegedly being kidnapped by Chinese police inside Vietnam along with veteran US-based dissident Wang Bingzhang and another activist.

Her release comes a day after Wang lost an appeal in a Chinese court against a life jail sentence imposed for espionage and terrorism.

Ms Zhang was freed from Chengdu on Saturday, and has now arrived in New York City, the US-based Free China Movement said.

Wang was found guilty of providing intelligence to Taiwan between 1982 and 1990 and obtaining "secret military material illegally" in exchange for money.

Kidnapped by agents

Human rights groups say that Miss Zhang and Wang, along with French-based dissident Wu Yue, who has already been released, were abducted by Chinese agents at a hotel inside Vietnam, where they were trying to meet Chinese labour leaders.

They were then apparently bundled across the border.

Wang Bingzhang
Zhang Qi went missing with Wang Bingzhang in Vietnam

The trio were reported missing in June last year, but it was only months later, following repeated appeals by overseas rights groups, that they were they found to be in Chinese police custody.

The Chinese authorities' version is that police found them tied up at a temple on the Chinese side after being kidnapped by a criminal gang.

As a permanent US resident, Wang's case has attracted the attention of the US State Department and Congress, which have called for his freedom.

Lian Shengde, the Free China Movement's executive director, told the AFP news agency that Ms Zhang's release had been delayed until after Wang's trial, to avoid attracting publicity about the background to his case.

"She knew details about the kidnappings, and they didn't want her to speak to the world before Wang's sentencing," he said.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Francis Markus
"Miss Zhang... was at the heart of a bizarre and tangled case"



SEE ALSO:
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28 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
China dismisses US censure
11 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese dissident jailed for life
10 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
China admits missing dissident arrested
20 Dec 02 |  Asia-Pacific
China's veteran dissident
20 Dec 02 |  Asia-Pacific
The dark side of China
16 Mar 02 |  From Our Own Correspondent


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