China releases 2 prominent rights lawyers after 22 months

China has released two prominent human rights lawyers detained nearly two years ago after they allegedly confessed in court to collaborating with foreign organizations and media to smear and subvert Communist Party rule.

An attorney representing Xie Yang said Wednesday that the activist lawyer was freed and at home celebrating his mother's birthday. Xie's release came shortly after he pleaded guilty in court to inciting subversion of state power and read from a prepared statement denouncing his past activism and warning other human rights lawyers against pursuing such work.

Supporters of Li Heping said the Beijing-based lawyer was also driven home Tuesday. A northern Chinese court announced in April that Li had confessed during a secret trial to attacking and discrediting China's political and legal systems.