Just over a year on from his release from detention, my artist friend Wu Yuren is finally a "free" man again. Well, as free as anyone can be in China.
For the past year he's been in this odd limbo status, on indefinite, unexplained "parole" (despite there never having been a conviction or sentencing in his abandoned trial), his movements supervised and restricted by the police, his passport confiscated.
Now, it seems, the charges against him have been quietly dropped, and yesterday he finally got his passport back - so he'll be able to go and visit his wife and daughter in Canada whenever he wants to.
The state security apparatus has more important matters to concern itself with at the moment, I suppose.
Of course, there's always the possibility that he could be spirited away a second time, if he attracts the attention of the authorities again, if he's deemed to have 'stepped out of line' somehow. That's the awful thing about living in a police state: arbitrary detentions may not happen so very often, but the knowledge that they can happen - to anyone, at any time - oppresses the soul.
Still, it's a small piece of good news - the only one I've heard from this country in quite some time.