BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese journalist detained for nine months after helping a German magazine report on democracy protests in Hong Kong has been released, she told AFP Friday, though associates said her lawyer was being held.
Zhang Miao, detained in October amid a crackdown on mainland supporters of protests which shut down parts of Hong Kong, was held in Beijing days after returning from a reporting trip to the former British colony.
Her detention highlighted risks facing Chinese nationals who work for foreign media in China and are often subject to harassment from state security.
Zhang, who had worked for the Hamburg-based weekly Die Zeit, said by telephone she was "safe" and on a public bus on her way home following her release.
But Zhang's brother and a family friend said state security on Friday morning detained her lawyer Zhou Shifeng.
"Three people took lawyer Zhou away, they covered his head," said the friend, who witnessed the detention at a hotel in the capital.
Angela Koeckritz, the former Beijing correspondent for Die Zeit, wrote in January that she had left China because of official pressure and repeated interrogations following Zhang's detention.
She said police held Zhang shortly after she attended a small-scale poetry reading in Beijing held in solidarity with Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.
Rights groups said at the time that dozens of people in the mainland were detained for expressing support for the demonstrations.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin "welcomed" Zhang's release and that it had worked "at various levels" to secure it.
"We will continue to support Chinese efforts to develop frameworks based on the rule of law and we hope the Chinese leadership will fully respect the rule of law as anchored in the Chinese constitution," he said.
China tightly controls its domestic media, and bars locals from working as journalists for foreign outlets, though they are permitted to assist with reporting.