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Chinese blogger released early after public apology: police

BEIJING--A Chinese blogger who made a groveling apology on state television after being detained for “publishing false stories” has been released from custody, police said Tuesday, citing his “good attitude.”

Xiang Nanfu, 62, published stories alleging gross rights abuses on an overseas news portal and was held by police in May as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on “Internet rumors.”

Hundreds of Chinese bloggers and journalists have been arrested in recent months as part of a government-backed campaign to assert greater control over social media.

The clampdown, which began last year, appears to be part of a concerted effort by China's ruling Communist party, which maintains an iron grip on power, to rein in criticism.

Xiang was one of a handful of high profile cases who were paraded on television, where he apologized for “smearing” the ruling Communist Party.

Reports said he was sentenced to nine years in prison for theft.

He has been released early “because of his poor health, and moreover, because of a relatively good attitude in pleading guilty,” Beijing police said in a post Tuesday on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.

It was not clear when he was sentenced, or when he was released.

Under regulations announced last September, Chinese Internet users face three years in prison for writing defamatory messages that are re-posted 500 times. Web users can also be jailed if offending posts are viewed more than 5,000 times.

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