Chen Guangchen to Ai Weiwei: 6 famous dissidents in China

The surprising escape of a blind legal activist from house arrest is buoying China's embattled dissident community, even as the government cracks down on those who helped him.

4. Gao Zhisheng

Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP/File
In this file photo taken April 7, 2010, Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer, gestures during one of his last appearance before disappearing for almost 2 years at a tea house in Beijing.

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.

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