China releases dissident

Peking (AP) - Closing a chapter in their handling of the 1989 democracy movement, Chinese authorities yesterday convicted a high- level Communist Party aide of supporting the protests, but released him for time served.

Wu Jiaxiang, who spent more than three years in jail awaiting trial, was released shortly after being sentenced to a three-year term. Mr Wu, a former adviser to the ousted party leader, Zhao Ziyang, is the last person known to have been awaiting trial in connection with the 1989 protests. The party used the army to put down the protests, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people.

Mr Wu is one of three Zhao advisors who became political pawns in an inter-factional party deal that allowed Mr Zhao to escape further punishment while his aides were convicted. Mr Wu was convicted of spreading anti-socialist propaganda and stirring up opposition to the party. A court spokeswoman, Fan Shumin, said he was sentenced to three years. His family confirmed that he was released shortly afterwards and returned home.