Lawyer Wang Quanzhang was finally reunited with his wife and son on 27 April 2020 after a separation of nearly five years. His wife, Li Wenzu, who has campaigned tirelessly for his release posted an emotional photo and video of their reunion online. She thanked the world for their concern and support for her husband’s case.

Wang was released from prison on 5 April 2020 following his secret trial and imprisonment. On release, Wang was held in quarantine before eventually being allowed to travel to Beijing and reunite with his wife and son.

After his release, Wang described how he “had to cut his emotional ties with his family to survive in prison”. He has also spoken about how he suffered severe depression and high blood pressure and lost some teeth while in detention.

Wang’s lawyer, Cheng Hai, has alleged that Wang was subjected to torture and ill-treatment during the five months he was held in ‘residential surveillance in a designated location’. Wang Quanzhang has not confirmed the details, but he acknowledged that the experience was very painful.

“It would be hard for people in the outside world to understand what I’m going through. I need time.”

Wang Quanzhang

During the 2015 review by the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the Chinese government delegation affirmed that there was no restriction on non-governmental organisations willing to provide rehabilitation services for torture survivors. With current levels of political repression in China, however, no independent NGO would be able to offer services in an environment of healing and trust. Nevertheless, a number of experienced psychologists are starting to offer counselling and psychological support to those experiencing high levels of anxiety and PTSD. Like many former political prisoners Wang now needs time to recover his physical and mental health and to strengthen relationships with his family and friends. The Rights Practice hopes he will be allowed the freedom to achieve this.

Wang was one of the last of the ‘709’ lawyers, arrested and sentenced after a mass crackdown in July 2015, to be released. He is reported to be the only lawyer that was arrested in the ‘709' crackdown to refuse to plead guilty, which, may explain why he received some of the harshest treatment from the authorities.

Wang Quanzhang and his lawyer have announced their intention to challenge Wang’s conviction, arbitrary detention and denial of access to lawyers of his choice.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment have all raised concern over Wang’s case.

In August 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Wang’s detention lacked legal basis and was arbitrary.