Xi's US Visit 2015

Detained scholar released ahead of Chinese president’s visit to the United States

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2015, 3:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 12:44pm

A Chinese scholar who helped an activist escape house arrest has been released from jail conditionally, his lawyer said on Tuesday, a move that comes ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington later this month.

Beijing lawyer Li Jin said that Guo Yushan, founder of the nongovernmental think tank Transition Institute, was released late on Monday, but she could not provide details on why he was freed or whether the release had anything to do with Xi’s forthcoming meeting with President Barack Obama.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Xi Jinping’s US visit: itinerary, issues and delegation

Guo was detained last October and charged in January with operating an illegal business. The charge remains, but can expire one year after his release.

The scholar is best known for his efforts to help shelter the blind activist Chen Guangcheng in Beijing and send him to the US Embassy after Chen escaped from house arrest in an eastern Chinese village in 2012. 

  Chen eventually made it to New York after Hillary Clinton, then the US secretary of state, negotiated for him to attend college in the United States.

READ MORE: China detains Transition Institute co-founder Guo Yushan on troublemaking charges

Guo’s Transition Institute conducted research on social and economic issues in China, but Beijing authorities, citing lack of proper registration, shut down the organisation in 2013.

 Guo was detained at a time when Hong Kong protesters were demanding universal suffrage in elections for the city’s top official. 

Dozens of other people also were detained for showing support for the protesters. 

Guo was not known to have made any public comments in support of the pro-democracy movement.