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China's official news agency says human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been sent back to prison for three years after a Beijing court ruled he had violated the terms of his probation.

A brief report from the Xinhua news agency Friday was the first word of Gao's whereabouts or status since he emerged briefly from secret detention in April of last year.

Gao was sentenced to three years in prison in 2006 for inciting subversion of state power. He was given five years of probation, effectively sparing him from prison, but has been detained without charges almost continuously since 2009.

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