Tibetan political prisoner Jigme Gyatso has been released after 17 years in a Chinese prison and is reported to be in poor health as a result of his treatment, an overseas Tibetan spokesman and US-backed broadcaster have said.
The 52-year-old former monk has returned to his home town in an ethnic Tibetan area in the north-west province of Gansu, according to Tashi Phuntsok, spokesman for the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in India.
He said Jigme Gyatso had been released about one year early, probably because of poor health due to harsh treatment in prison.
Radio Free Asia also reported the release, saying he appeared “very weak” upon returning home on Monday after being released two days earlier from Chusul prison near Tibet’s regional capital, Lhasa, where many political prisoners are held.
It said friends reported him as walking with a limp and complaining of problems with his heart and vision and other physical complaints related to poor nutrition or lack of medical treatment.
It was not immediately possible to confirm Jigme Gyatso’s release. Chusul prison has no listed phone number and government and police officials in Lhasa said they had no information on the case. Tibet remains off-limits to foreign reporters without special permission.