Dissident's words of freedom

New York
Saturday 22 October 2011 21:23

With humour, presence and comments as eloquent as his written words, China's best-known dissident re-entered public life yesterday with a clear message: during nearly 18 years in prison, his strong will endured.

"I've waited decades for this chance to exercise my rights to free speech," Wei Jingsheng said. "But the Chinese people have been waiting for centuries."

In an extraordinary news conference at a public library, Mr Wei met hundreds of reporters and supporters as if he had been doing it all his life. He joked, gestured and reaffirmed his commitment both to his cause and to China. "I will love my fatherland for ever - whether I'm there or anywhere else," Mr Wei said in Chinese. "I certainly plan to go back. In fact, I never intended to leave."

The Chinese government released Mr Wei from prison last Saturday and put him on a plane to Detroit, where he received medical treatment for hypertension and other ailments developed during prison life.

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