Just over a month ago, a well-known Chinese legal reformer named Xu Zhiyong was taken from his house in Beijing at 5am and moved to a detention facility. Background reports here and here, which emphasize that Xu, far from being some overthrow-the-government voice of radicalism, had been dedicated to defending the rights of Chinese citizens within China's own legal system. His best-known recent case was on behalf of parents of children who died or were harmed during the tainted-milk scandal last year.

This morning comes news that he has just been released, though under the threat of follow-up prosecution. That would probably involve (trumped-up, in the view of the outside world) charges of "tax evasion," probably based on support that the Yale Law School has given to Xu's Open Constitution Initiative (Gong Meng, 公盟) project. See here and here, with details sketchy but the main fact of his release established. Later on, more about the implications of the case -- including the disappearance of Xu's assistant, as reported here in the Guardian. For now, it is better to have Xu Zhiyong out of jail than in.

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