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Reporters Speak With Missing Rights Lawyer in China

A Chinese human rights lawyer who has been missing for more than a year has told reporters he is living at a Buddhist landmark in northern China.

Gao Zhisheng told reporters for Western news agencies by phone Sunday that he was living on Wutai mountain, a Buddhist landmark in Shanxi province. The lawyer said he was free at the moment and that he wanted to "live a quiet life for a while."

Gao has not been seen since he was seized by police in February 2009 from his brother's home in northern Shaanxi province. Gao's family had feared he was dead.

Before he disappeared, 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.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told reporters on March 16 that Gao has been sentenced to prison for subverting state power, but would not say where the lawyer is being held.

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