Chinese rights lawyer disappears on prison release date

BEIJING (AP) – A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer disappeared on the day of his scheduled release from prison yesterday and was reportedly taken away by unknown persons.

Jiang Tianyong, who defended politically sensitive clients like blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng and followers of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual group, had completed a two-year sentence handed down for crimes against the state.

But supporters who arrived at the prison in central Henan province were told that unknown individuals had already picked him up and taken him away, said his wife Jin Bianling.

“The Chinese government is so shameless,” Jin said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where she lives with their 16-year-old daughter.

“He’s completed his sentence now, so he should be free,” she said. “Is Chinese law just a piece of scrap paper?”

Jiang’s sister and father have also been missing since Wednesday afternoon, when state security agents were supposed to be escorting them to the prison, Jin said. Calls to the prison rang unanswered yesterday.