Chinese police free Aids activist  

Nov. 27, 2006

A prominent Chinese Aids campaigner who was organising a forum on the illness has been released after being held by police for three days, colleagues say.

Wan Yanhai had told workers to cancel plans for Sunday's symposium by his Beijing advocacy group, as he was detained on Friday.

No reason was given for the detention or release of Mr Wan.

He is one of China's best-known Aids activists and has criticised Beijing's response to the spread of the disease.

In 2002 he was held for three weeks and accused of disclosing state secrets.

Human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of harassing Aids activists working in the country.

In the past couple of years, Beijing has taken a more open approach to the fight against Aids after years of denying there was a problem.

Last week China announced a big jump in reported cases of HIV/Aids, with more than 180,000 people confirmed to have the infection - a rise of nearly 40,000 cases in a year.

Authorities say the increase is partly due to better testing and reporting of cases, as the government has made tackling the disease a priority.

Total infections, including unreported cases, in China are estimated to have reached 650,000.

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