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A Swedish activist who was detained in China on charges of damaging national security has been released and deported.
Peter Dahlin, 35, has been held since early January amid a crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists.
Last week he appeared on state media apparently confessing to breaking the law through his organisation’s support of local Chinese rights lawyers.
The Swedish embassy confirmed he had left China but gave no further details.
Its foreign minister welcomed Mr Dahlin’s release, but expressed concern about another Swede in Chinese detention.
Mr Dahlin is the founder of Chinese Urgent Action Working Group (China Action), which describes itself as a legal aid organisation.
It provides assistance to uncertified “barefoot” lawyers who provide legal aid in rural areas, and provides direct help to disadvantaged groups and individuals who have experienced rights violations.
The group had said Mr Dahlin was detained on 4 January while en route to the airport for a flight to Thailand.
Last week, in a report on state television, Mr Dahlin appeared to confess to helping the Beijing law firm Fengrui – a number of the firm’s lawyers have recently been detained on charges of subversion.
Mr Dahlin said he had violated Chinese law, caused harm to the Chinese government and hurt the Chinese public.
China Action called the report “absurd” and said the confession appeared to be forced.
Analysis: John Sudworth, Beijing correspondent
China’s image as a sophisticated, rising superpower appears increasingly at odds with its toughening campaign against dissidents, activists and lawyers, and Peter Dahlin’s case is a good illustration of that widening gulf.
Mr Dahlin found himself first held in secret detention, then paraded on state TV making a confession that had all the hallmarks of one written for him, before finally finding himself accused of being a foreign agent engaged in a mission to smear China.
Friends and colleagues of his say the charge would be absurd, laughable even, were it not for the fact that it carries such serious consequences. But unlike Chinese nationals facing the same arbitrary justice, Mr Dahlin had the benefit of a foreign government working on his behalf.
His sudden release may be the result of that intense diplomatic effort or it may simply be that he has served China’s purpose in sending a chilling message to other foreign NGOs operating in China: engagement with Western organisations and values is fine in so far as they help boost China’s capitalist economy, but they will not be tolerated if they are perceived to threaten Communist Party rule.
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