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China's jailed lawyer gets rare family visit

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January 23, 2013 02:52 AM EST | AP

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BEIJING — The family of an imprisoned Chinese rights lawyer was allowed to visit him for the first time in nearly 10 months, providing a confirmation that he was still alive, a human rights group reported.

New York-based Human Rights in China said the younger brother and father-in-law of Gao Zhisheng visited him at a prison in the remote Shaya county of the far west Xinjiang region on Jan. 12.

The group quoted Gao's wife, Geng He, as saying he appeared clear-minded and spoke normally. It said the visit was the first confirmation in months that Gao is alive.

It was the second time family members were allowed to visit Gao since the advocate for constitutional reform and religious rights was imprisoned in December 2011 for violating probation.

Gao was convicted in 2006 of inciting subversion of state power and sentenced to three years but released on probation.