Liberal scholars Xu Youyu and Hao Jian, online writer Liu Di and Christian house church leader Hu Shigen were released on Thursday after having been detained for a month in an ongoing clampdown on government critics ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement.
Lawyer Shang Baojun said Xu, Liu and Hu were released on bail on Thursday afternoon.
Two friends of Hao, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, said he was also released on bail on Thursday. Hao's lawyer could not be reached on Friday.
Xu's wife confirmed on Thursday that he had been released, but declined to elaborate as they were barred from talking to the media as a condition of his release.
Together with rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, the four were placed in criminal detention early last month on the charge of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" after attending a seminar involving 15 people at Hao's home in Beijing on May 3. They were commemorating the anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement.
Shang said that under Chinese law, people released on bail were still considered criminal suspects and were subject to a number of restrictions including confinement to their hometowns and reporting to local police for a year.
Pu's lawyer, Zhang Sizhi , said he had no news about Pu.
According to a statement released after the May 3 commemoration, the participants - scholars, activists and relatives of protestors killed in the Tiananmen crackdown - called for an official investigation into the suppression of the pro-democracy movement and urged the authorities to compensate victims.
Zhang, also the lawyer of detained veteran journalist Gao Yu, said on Thursday that he did not know where she was held and had not been able to visit her. Gao has been placed in criminal detention since April 24 on the charge of "leaking state secrets abroad" for allegedly leaking a confidential Communist Party document. But he said her son, Zhao Meng, who was detained on the same charge, had been released.
Rights groups say Beijing launched one of the most severe crackdowns on dissent for years ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. Dissidents, scholars, rights lawyers, journalists and other perceived "trouble-makers" were detained, interrogated and intimidated .
As of Tuesday, Amnesty International said at least 66 people had been detained by the Chinese authorities in connection to the Tiananmen anniversary. Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said it had documented 90 people detained, questioned and harassed by the police since the crackdown began in April.
CHRD said there were 42 criminal detentions and two confirmed arrests, seven administrative detentions and seven others were missing. Many of the targeted individuals took part in the demonstrations in 1989.
Legal experts said that more activists had been placed in criminal detention on public disorder charges in the past year. They say mainland police have the power to arbitrarily detain perceived troublemakers in the absence of a court ruling or prosecutors' approval, and rarely face consequences for improper detentions.