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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 08:12 GMT
China web dissident 'soon free'
A Chinese student arrested for criticising the Communist Party on the internet may soon be released, family members and rights groups said.

Liu Di, 23, has been held since November 2002 after she allegedly criticised the jailing of a prominent internet dissident, Huang Qi.

Her grandmother told Reuters news that Ms Liu, who wrote as 'stainless steel mouse', could soon be free.

Prosecutors have given her case back to police, suggesting evidence is lacking.

No date has been given for Ms Liu's release, but the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said she could be freed by the end of November.

It was unclear whether her release would have any bearing on other people arrested at the same time for posting critical material on the internet.

China's authorities have been keen to promote the commercial potential of the internet, but are anxious to control its political content.

The campaign group Reporters Without Borders estimates that China employs 30,000 people to watch what its people are doing online.

Filters installed by the government ban access to foreign websites run by dissidents, human rights groups and some news organisations.

The content of domestic sites is also carefully monitored.

Reporters Without Borders estimates that 36 people have been arrested and jailed in recent years for putting controversial content on the internet.

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