You wait ages for a release...
....and then two come at once! We've had some fantastic news on two of our long-term cases in the recent weeks.
Shi Tao - China
Great news! Journalist and poet Shi Tao was released on 23 August 2013. Shi Tao served eight years and nine months in prison, and his sentence was reduced by 15 months.
Shi Tao was serving a 10-year prison sentence for sending an email summarizing a Chinese Central Propaganda Department communiqué on how journalists should handle the 15th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement. He was detained in 2004 and later charged with "leaking state secrets". His conviction was partly based on information provided to the Chinese authorities by the Internet company Yahoo!
Shi Tao was one of the individual cases that we highlighted in the 2006 Global Letter-writing marathon. It was also featured in our 2008 Beijing Olympics campaign.
Shi Tao told Amnesty International that his life was getting back to normal. He was recovering and resting. A lot of friends have visited him and he has not faced any restrictions on his movements since his release.
“I am sincerely grateful to your [Amnesty International’s] sustained support and attention to my mother and me over these years. The support and encouragement of friends from around the world have helped my mother and me through the difficult and lonely times. I received your letters and postcards but haven’t read them all. I will read them one by one. Thank you all.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh – Iran
Returning to our desks following a meeting about the 2013 Write for Rights campaign - in which Nasrin was meant to feature - we were delighted to see the news that she had been released. Normally last minute changes to cases can be problematic this close to the launch of a campaign, but this is a change we can happily work around!
The prominent human rights lawyer was released on September 18 along with at least 11 other political activists.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International said: “While the releases are a positive development, they must be a first step that paves the way for the release of all prisoners of conscience held solely because they peacefully exercised their rights.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced in September 2010 to six years in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “acting against national security”, including membership of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).
Sotoudeh thanked all Amnesty members who have taken action for her release, “I have been aware of all your efforts on my behalf and I want thank-you and all your colleagues for your work,” she said.
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