China has granted bail to five women activists under pressure from the West and Chinese rights campaigners.
The women were released from custody after their March 8 arrest and detention on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing two lawyers.
They had planned to demonstrate against sexual harassment on public transport when they were arrested on International Women’s Day.
Their case outraged a swath of Chinese society, with dozens of students and workers signing petitions calling for their release.
United States Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry also pressed for their release, prompting China’s foreign ministry to lodge a formal protest with Washington
The European Union also expressed concern about the case.
Despite their release, Wei Tingting, 26, Wang Man, 32, Zheng Churan, 25, Li Tingting, 25, and Wu Rongrong, 30, will have their freedoms restricted, according to Liang Xiaojun and Wang Qiushi, two lawyers involved in the case.
“They’ve taken people into custody without any evidence of wrongdoing, so they have to release them.”
However, Liang said the women are still considered suspects and “their freedoms will be restricted, so it’s not something that we should be happy about”.
President Xi Jinping’s administration has detained hundreds of activists in the past two years in what some rights groups say is the worst clampdown on dissent in two decades.
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