The United States called Monday on China to lift restrictions on the movements of prominent lawyer Wang Quanzhang and urged the release of other detained rights advocates.

Wang, who defended political activists and victims of land seizures, was released this month after nearly five years in prison but was not immediately allowed to return home.

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Wang Quanzhang. Photo: RFA.

The State Department called on China to allow Wang’s “freedom of movement, including the ability to join his family in Beijing.”

“We remain very concerned about reports of his declining physical and mental health, and of his mistreatment in prison,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

“We continue to call for the release of all of those unjustly detained, such as Li Yuhan and Yu Wensheng, as well as other Chinese citizens who are in detention simply for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms in pursuit of a more equitable and just society, governed by the rule of law,” she said.

Wang was rounded up as part of a sweeping crackdown on lawyers and government critics in 2015.

His wife, Li Wenzu, told AFP earlier this month that she feared Wang would be placed under house arrest and subject to surveillance despite his release from prison.

The United States has frequently criticized China over its human rights record and over the weekend criticized the arrest of high-profile democracy campaigners in Hong Kong.

President Donald Trump has also targeted China over its handling of the global COVID-19 pandemic that originated in Wuhan, although in recent weeks he has toned down his comments as part of a truce with President Xi Jinping.

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