Gao Zhisheng is a Chinese human rights attorney known for his work defending activists and religious minorities. Mr. Gao, a Christian, was disbarred and detained by Chinese authorities several times before he disappeared in April 2010. His whereabouts were something of a mystery until March 2012, when his relatives reported that he was alive and good health after they visited him in prison for the first time.
Before his clashes with Chinese authorities began, he was named one of China’s top-10 lawyers by the Ministry of Justice. But his choice of cases – defending people and groups not in favor with the Chinese government, particularly the Falun Gong religious movement – damaged his own standing with the government. He was convicted of subversion in 2006 (but the sentence was suspended), detained and tortured another time, and arrested once more before his last disappearance.
His wife and child took asylum in the US in 2009.