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China urged to allow freed dissident travel to US

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is urging China to allow a dissident lawyer who was freed from prison Thursday to come to the United States to be reunited with his family if he so chooses.

Spokeswoman Marie Harf welcomed Gao Zhisheng's (GAO shi-SHENG) release upon completion of his sentence, and urged China to free all its remaining prisoners of conscience.

Gao is one of China's best-known rights lawyers and a bold government critic whose accounts of torture drew international criticism of Beijing. Before his imprisonment, he defended politically sensitive members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and farmers with land disputes.

His wife Geng told The Associated Press on Thursday from her home in San Francisco that Gao is now with his brother in the western Chinese city of Urumqi (UH-rum-kee).

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