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China earthquake activist freed after 5 years: lawyer

BEIJING--A Chinese activist who investigated whether shoddy construction caused the deaths of thousands of children when their schools collapsed in a 2008 earthquake was released Thursday after finishing a five-year jail term, his lawyer said.

Writer and campaigner Tan Zuoren was heading home to Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, his lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told AFP by phone.

“He was released today. Now he's on the way home,” Pu said.

Tan, 59, was sentenced for “inciting subversion of state power” in connection with several articles he published online about authorities' brutal crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

But he was arrested while investigating the deaths of thousands of children whose schools collapsed in a huge earthquake in Sichuan.

The 8.0-magnitude disaster in May 2008 left more than 80,000 people dead or missing.

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