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Report: China Frees Imprisoned Organizer

March 1, 2006

BEIJING (AP) _ A jailed organizer of massive 2002 labor protests has been freed in a sign that China might be considering a resumption of early releases for prisoners in response to foreign lobbying, a U.S.-based activist said Wednesday.

Xiao Yunliang’s release comes as Chinese President Hu Jintao prepares to visit Washington in April.

Xiao was released Feb. 23 after his sentence was cut by 24 days, said John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco, who has helped to arrange releases of other Chinese prisoners.

``I think it’s a sign of China’s intention to return to the table and discuss with the United States such things as early releases and other human rights issues,″ Kamm said.

China’s last major release of a political prisoner was one year ago, when its most prominent Muslim prisoner, businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, was allowed to leave for the United States.

Beijing suspended early releases after that, possibly out of anger that Kadeer publicly criticized the communist government.

Another organizer of the protests, Yao Fuxin, did not receive a similar sentence reduction and is due to remain in prison until March, 2009, Kamm said.

Xiao and Yao have been on lists of prisoners about which Washington and other governments have expressed concern to Beijing.

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