A Chinese scholar who helped an activist escape house arrest has been released conditionally, just before Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Washington later this month.

Beijing lawyer Li Jin said Tuesday that Guo Yushan, founder of the nongovernmental think tank Transition Institute, was released Monday.

Guo was detained last October and charged in January with operating an illegal business. The charge remains, but can expire one year after Guo's release.

The scholar is best known for his 2012 efforts to help shelter the blind activist Chen Guangcheng in Beijing and send him to the U.S. Embassy there after Chen escaped from house arrest in an eastern Chinese village.

Guo's Transition Institute conducted research on China's social and economic issues, but it was shut down in 2013.