China releases, expels Swedish human rights activist

  
China has expelled Swedish human rights advocate Peter Dahlin, who had been detained for three weeks and made what his organization described as an “apparent forced confession” on state television.

A spokesperson for the Swedish embassy in Beijing confirmed Tuesday that Dahlin had been released from detention and expelled from the country but declined to give further details.

Dahlin works for the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, which “undertakes rapid response assistance for rights defenders in need” and provides legal aid and training across China, according to its website.

He appeared on state television on January 18, where he apologized for [having] “caused harm to the Chinese government. I have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. I apologize sincerely for this. And I’m very sorry that this ever happened.”

His colleague Michael Caster also confirmed his release but said he hadn’t spoken to Dahlin yet. He added that his girlfriend, a Chinese national who was detained at that same time, had been released but remained in China.

Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, said that Dahlin worked for an illegal organization that sponsored activities that jeopardized China’s national security.

China Action said last week the accusations against Dahlin remain “baseless.”

Dahlin’s confession on state broadcaster CCTV followed a similar appearance by another Swedish citizen — Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong publisher who went missing in Thailand in October.

Gui said he turned himself in over a 2003 hit and run incident but supporters in Hong Kong say they suspect he was abducted by Chinese security forces because he publishes books critical of China’s ruling elite.

On Monday, before Dahlin’s release, the Swedish Embassy took to Chinese social media to express its concern and said arrested individuals should have their cases heard in court with the presence of defense lawyers, not on TV.

“Two of our citizen have ‘confessed’ on China’s national broadcaster, and we feel unsettled about this kind of action,” read a statement on the embassy’s Weibo account.

“Many hoped that China would have abandoned such mechanism of public self-criticism decades ago, yet it instead has become more and more common in the country.”

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