"At the same time, 50 other people are currently in prison in China for writing about 'subversive' subjects online," Reporters Without Borders continued. "China is by far the world's biggest prison for bloggers and cyber-dissidents. We would also like to pay tribute to the courage of this blogger's sister, who battled relentlessly for his release."Hao maintained an online journal called Beijing or Bust, under the nom-de-blog "Beijing Loafer." His sister, Na (aka Nina) Wu, reported on her fight to free her brother at wuhaofamily.spaces.msn.com throughout his imprisonment. Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca McKinnon of Global Voices translated Na's posts and petitioned in English for his release here. Today, Rebecca writes:
Hao was arrested on 22 February while preparing a report about an underground Protestant church. He was held in isolation for 140 days, during which he was never allowed to receive the help of a lawyer. The Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) never revealed the reasons for his arrest. He was said to be "under house arrest" but he was never allowed to receive a visit from his relatives or to telephone them. The PSB said this was necessary because there had been a "breach of national security."
It’s impossible to know right now what will happen next, what caused his release at this time, or whether the story is completely over. Doubtless Nina’s hard work and suffering have paid off.
There is also no doubt that all the expressions of support around the world - from media, politicians, bloggers, and other citizens writing letters and signing petitions - have had an impact. We have made it clear to the Chinese government that their treatment of Hao was a cause for national shame. We have given Hao’s family and loved ones moral support in the face of a lot of nastiness and negativity as they worked to get him released. But most importantly, the global show of support will no doubt be a great source of strength as Hao recovers from his ordeal and copes with its aftermath.