Chinese dissident’s wife worries about safety of husband who has been missing for six months

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chinese dissident’s wife worries about his safety

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — The wife of a prominent Chinese dissident said Thursday she’s worried about the safety of her husband, who has been missing since he was last seen in China six months ago.

Geng He said she has not spoken to her husband, attorney Gao Zhisheng, since April, and she and her relatives do not know where he is.

“I know nothing of my husband’s situation right now,” Geng told The Associated Press through a translator during an interview in Sunnyvale.

Geng and her children were granted asylum in the United States and she has been working to find Gao, who is considered a candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced Friday.

Before being jailed and otherwise muzzled four years ago, Gao was the most dauntless of a new group of civil liberties lawyers. He advocated constitutional reform and took on sensitive cases involving underground Christians and the banned Falun Gong spiritual group, angering China’s authoritarian government.

When Gao first disappeared in February 2009, the Chinese government gave vague explanations about his whereabouts, heightening worries he had been jailed or tortured as he was previously. The United States and the European Union called on China to investigate his disappearance.

Gao was missing for more than a year before he resurfaced in March and told The AP he was abandoning his role as a government critic and hoped he could reunite with his family. He said he didn’t want to discuss his disappearance or whether he had been held and mistreated by the authorities.

Geng said she last spoke to him in April, shortly before he disappeared again after visiting his in-laws in far western China.

She said her husband is a good man who cares deeply about justice and has not done anything wrong.

“The only thing he did was help his clients defend their legal rights,” she said.

Geng said her children are becoming increasingly worried about their father.

“They need their father,” she said. “I don’t want to see them grow up without the love of their father.”

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