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China Reportedly Releases Long-Serving Dissident

China has reportedly freed an ethnic Mongol dissident, Hada, who has spent much of the last two decades behind bars.

Hada's relatives told Reuters news agency that Hada was released on December 9 in Hohhot, the capital of China's Inner Mongolian region.

Chinese authorities did not announce the release officially, and no more details were given.

Hada was jailed in 1996 for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which sought greater rights for China's ethnic Mongols. He says the charges were trumped up.

After being released in December 2010, he had to serve a separate sentence of four years of "deprivation of political rights."

Beijing fears ethnic unrest in strategic border areas and keeps a tight rein on Inner Mongolia, as it does on Tibet and Xinjiang.

Based on reporting by Reuters