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Chinese Dissident Disappears for Second Time

A family member and a friend of a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer say he has vanished again, just over a month after apparently being released by police.

Gao Zhisheng disappeared into police custody in February of last year, stirring international controversy, until he resurfaced 13 months later. He told reporters he was now living on Wutai mountain, a Buddhist landmark in northern Shanxi province and wanted to "live a quiet life for awhile."

However, Gao's sister-in-law says the family has been trying to contact him, but his phone has not been in service.

Fellow rights lawyer and friend Li Heping said he has not been able to get in touch with Gao since April 20, when Gao returned from visiting his father-in-law in western China's Xinjiang region.

Before he disappeared last year, Gao had published a statement describing severe beatings and torture by Chinese authorities.

Gao was once praised by the Chinese government for his legal work, but fell out of Beijing's favor when he started defending ethnic minorities and religious persecution cases.

He is most known for his work defending underground Christians and the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.