Update (Mar. 1): According to a Radio Free Asia report confirmed by ChinaAid, family members of imprisoned Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng once again were allowed to visit him in January at Shaya Prison, where he still is being held for "defending those oppressed by China's atheistic government." This most recent visit confirms that Gao is still alive.
Since the family's first visit last year, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have begun a bipartisan effort to support Zhisheng's release and U.S. congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) personally wrote to Zhisheng in support.
For the first time in nearly two years, family members of prominent Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng have confirmed he is alive and in good health.
Often called the "conscience of China," the 47-year-old Christian disappeared into police custody in 2009, less than a year after being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his human-rights advocacy work, CT reported.
The ChinaAid Association reported Gao's family had last seen him in April 2010, when he gave an interview to the Associated Press describing the torture Chinese police inflicted on him.
Gao's father-in-law and older brother visited him for half an hour at a prison in the far western region of Xinjiang on March 24. Gao's wife, Geng He, who fled to the United States with their two children just before Gao's 2009 disappearance, heard the news from her family. She told The New York Times, "He was very pale, like someone who hasn't been in the sunlight for years, but otherwise he seemed healthy. After hearing the news from my family, I slept well for the first time in a long while."
Gao was once named one of China's top ten lawyers by the country's Ministry of Justice; he taught himself and passed the bar exam on his first try. He gained worldwide acclaim for his defense of workers, political activists, and religious groups. Geng He told CT in 2009 that Gao began attending a Beijing house church regularly in 2005; the couple quit the Communist Party later that year and publicly called it "inhuman, unjust, and evil."