Qu Long, a former business acquaintance of controversial Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui, has been released after a court in Hebei province overturned a 15-year sentence which he received in 2012, according to financial magazine Caixin.

Caixin paraphrased Qu, saying he told their reporter the case was a “classic example of Guo Wengui colluding with senior government officials such as Ma Jian and Zhang Yue to misuse official power to trick and deeply interfere with the judiciary.” It said Qu was originally “framed” by Guo.

An exiled Chinese billionaire living in New York, Guo has accused some of the most senior officials in China’s Communist Party of corruption. Despite providing little evidence, his claims – which were were released through tweets and video blogs – made him a political threat to the Chinese government.

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Guo Wengui. Photo: Twitter.

China views Guo as a criminal suspect, and Interpol has issued an international arrest notice for him at Beijing’s request.

Qu was sentenced to 15 years in 2012 for duty encroachment and misappropriating assets worth RMB 855 million. He has been in prison for six years and five months.

According to Caixin, after Qu had a falling out with Guo, he reported Guo’s alleged corruption to China’s anti-graft agency. He claimed Guo was colluding with Ma Jian, then one of China’s top security officials, along with Zhang Yue, a former party secretary in Hebei, to buy securities illegally.

The magazine reported that, during the two political meetings in March this year, a member of the National People’s Congress submitted materials from Qu Long’s case to the Supreme People’s Court. The court re-investigated the case, and accepted Qu’s appeal.

The Heibei Higher People’s Court heard the case again in August, and found that the original verdict sentencing for Qu “lacked evidence, and the facts were unclear.” It overturned the sentence on Tuesday, and said some witnesses in the original hearing made false testimonies on Guo’s orders. Qu and his family’s previous attempts to appeal were blocked, and Qu claimed that he was mistreated and deprived of sleep during his interrogation.

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The defendants in Qu Long’s trial in August.

In a separate case, Qu, who was once an executive of Tianjin Huatai Holding Group Ltd., pleaded guilty to misappropriation of funds in August at a trial with four others related to Guo, according to state news agency Xinhua. The indictment said that Guo directed Qu and other people to transfer more than 400 million yuan from Huatai to companies controlled by Guo, without first holding a board meeting. The verdict has not yet been released.

Caixin and its editor-in-chief Hu Shuli sued Guo for libel in April, claiming the tycoon made defamatory attacks after Caixin published an investigative report in 2015 on his business dealings.

Guo Wengui is seeking asylum in the United States and is facing a lawsuit filed in New York by his former personal assistant accusing him of rape, along with at least two other lawsuits filed by companies and people in China claiming he made defamatory statements about them.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.