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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
China land rights lawyer released
Workers in Shanghai demolish old buildings to make way for a new convention centre in May
Urban building projects have left residents homeless in Shanghai
A prominent Chinese lawyer who helped Shanghai residents protest about the demolition of their homes has been released from prison.

Zheng Enchong was freed from Tilanqiao prison after completing a three-year term for passing state secrets to foreigners.

Before his arrest he helped hundreds of residents take action after they were left homeless by building projects.

Mr Zheng, who denied the charge, said he was over "the worst part".

"I plan to rest, but I will also work," he told the AFP news agency from his home. "I am still very interested in the land and real estate issues that are affecting China."

Discontent

Mr Zheng had alleged complicity between city officials and a disgraced property tycoon on real estate deals that left residents homeless and without proper compensation.

He was convicted of sending state secrets abroad after faxing two documents to US-based activist group Human Rights in China. The documents were later deemed to be confidential by China's government.

A number of dissidents and journalists, such as a Chinese researcher for the New York Times, Zhao Yan, have been detained under this law.

There is increasing discontent in China over land appropriation to make way for development projects, as residents are often left without proper notice or financial compensation.

In March, Premier Wen Jiabao promised to punish officials who seized land without offering compensation amid growing concern in Beijing over the issue and its effect on social stability.


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