Zhao Yan was released in the morning after serving the three-year sentence, his lawyer Guan Anping said, while criticizing the legal proceedings of the case.
"The legal authorities have repeated illegal acts," Guan said of the case, in which Zhao was acquitted of divulging state secrets but was convicted of fraud.
Zhao was detained in 2004 after the New York Times correctly reported that former Chinese President Jiang Zemin would step down as head of the state Central Military Commission, his last remaining government post, prior to a formal announcement.
The New York Times had denied that Zhao leaked state secrets to the paper, and international human rights and media groups had called for his release.
"These three years I have missed my family very much," Zhao said in a statement. "I...plan to present a longer written statement expressing my views at some point in the near future," he said.
The New York Times welcomed the release.
"We have said all along that Zhao Yan is an honorable, hard-working reporter whose only offense seems to have been practicing journalism," Bill Keller, executive editor of the paper, said in a statement.
"It is our expectation that Zhao Yan, having served his full three year term, will now be able to resume his life and return to his chosen profession without restrictions."
Last Mod: 15 Eylül 2007, 11:42