Ran Yunfei was held in police custody along with several other prominent dissidents in the recent government crackdown. (Internet photo)
Prominent blogger, activist and lawyer Ran Yunfei, originally charged with inciting subversion, has been unexpectedly released after nearly six months in police custody. Ran's detention was highlighted by dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who himself was released from detention in June.
Mr Ran, 43, returned to his home in Sichuan province late Tuesday (Aug 9) from a detention center in the city of Dujiangyan, his wife, Wang Wei, said by telephone.
Ran was taken away in February as authorities responded to the wave of "jasmine" revolutions sweeping the Middle East by arresting and detaining dozens of prominent lawyers, bloggers and activists.
The human rights activist and lawyer Ran was released just hours after Ai Weiwei, the Tate Modern artist and government critic, posted on Twitter urging his followers to speak out about the prosecution of Ran and five others.
Ai Weiwei, who was also detained for 80 days during the crackdown before being released on bail, appeared to be heading once again for a possible confrontation with the authorities.
Ai reactivated his Twitter account on Aug 6, initially posting only greetings and mundane photos. But on Aug 9, he spoke out in support of Ran and another dissident, Wang Lihong, a 56-year-old woman who was arrested in March for protesting outside the trial of three fellow activists in the southern city of Fuzhou.
On Aug 10, he showed no sign of quieting down, again posting a Tweet supporting Wang, who is due to go on trial Friday (Aug 12) in Beijing, accused of "creating a disturbance," a charge that carries up to five years in jail and which, her lawyer has said, she denies.
"If you have a mother, if you are a woman, if you are a common person, if you don't wish to be disappeared or falsely accused, follow Wang Lihong," urged Ai in a tweet posted on Wednesday morning.
Ran Yunfei 冉雲飛
Ai Weiwei 艾未未
Wang Lihong 王荔蕻