A Chinese student of the University of Minnesota sentenced to six months in prison for posting tweets critical of president Xi Jinping has been released to his hometown of Wuhan, which is coincidentally under quarantine due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported on Friday.
The Tribune received a message from student Luo Daiqing’s university email address saying he had been released.
University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker told the paper that while Luo had attended for the 2018-2019 academic year, the student was not currently enrolled at the University. Ricker said that while the University had learned of Luo’s arrest from a Wednesday report on Axios, the administration would not take immediate public action regarding the situation.
“I am honestly not sure what a public university can do regarding another country’s legal system,” Ricker said. The University of Minnesota’s campuses host around 3,100 students from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned China’s arrest of the student, including Senators Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), along with Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) in whose district Luo was studying.
“This is what ruthless totalitarianism looks like,” Omar said in a statement. “Luo Daiqing made these posts while he was in the U.S. — attending college in my district. Here in the United States, we believe in free speech.”
“The Chinese Communist Party ought to release Luo Daiqing immediately, and the University of Minnesota ought to give him a full-ride scholarship,” Sasse said in his statement. “Don’t forget that the Chinese Communist Party has banned Twitter, so the only people who even saw these tweets were the goons charged with monitoring Chinese citizens while they’re enjoying freedom here in the United States. This is what ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism looks like.