CPJ welcomes release of Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen in China

New York, June 5, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of Tibetan documentary filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who was jailed in China in 2008 for shooting the film, “Leaving Fear Behind,” which documents conditions faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule. Wangchen was released from prison in Qinghai’s provincial capital, Xining, today, but faces an unspecified term of deprivation of political rights, according to Wangpo Tethong, a member of the Switzerland-based Tibetan film company Filming for Tibet who spoke to CPJ. 

“We are relieved that Dhondup Wangchen has been released, but Chinese authorities will never be able to return the six years they’ve already taken from him,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “China should seek to end its stigma as one of the world’s leading jailers of the press by releasing the many journalists unjustly imprisoned for their work.”

Wangchen will live with his sister in the city of Khotse, also known as Keque, Filming for Tibet said. CPJ has rigorously campaigned for Wangchen’s release. In 2012, CPJ honored the filmmaker with an International Press Freedom Award, an annual recognition of courageous reporting. The following month, CPJ sent a petition with almost 15,000 signatures to the Chinese government, calling for his release. In January 2013, Wangchen was moved to a women’s prison, where conditions are not as harsh, after years of living in a labor camp in eastern Tibet, where his health had deteriorated.