Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong freed

Chinese lawyer Jiang Tianyong (file photo 2009)
Image caption Jiang Tianyong was seized by police at his brother's house on 19 February

A leading Chinese human rights lawyer seized by police as part of a crackdown on dissent has been released and allowed to return home.

Jiang Tianyong, a critic of the Chinese government, returned to his Beijing home on Tuesday after two months in custody, his wife told the BBC.

It is not clear if Mr Jiang will face charges or is under house arrest.

The US has raised his case, and urged China to end the "extralegal" abduction and detention of lawyers and activists.

Mr Jiang disappeared on 19 February as he was visiting his brother in a Beijing suburb.

"My husband is back - I'm very glad. But it's not convenient to talk," Mr Jiang's wife, Jin Bianling, told the BBC by telephone.

'Rule of law'

Since the middle of February human rights groups say several high-profile lawyers have disappeared.

Some of those, including Teng Biao, Li Tiantian and Liu Shihui, are still unaccounted for - others have had their movements restricted.

The organisation Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) says dozens of activists have been taken into police custody or placed under house arrest.

They include Ai Weiwei, a prominent artist and vocal critic of China's governing Communist Party, who is being investigated for "economic crimes". His detention has drawn international condemnation.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed Mr Ai's detention earlier this month, saying: "China is a country ruled by law and will act according to law. We hope that the countries concerned will respect China's decision.

"This has nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression."

CHRD says China's authorities may be using the pretext of clamping down on any possible contagion from the revolutions in the Arab world to round-up many activists.

The group says police have cast a wide net taking in internet bloggers who have posted or relayed messages about the calls for a Middle East-style popular revolution in China.

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