Wangchen, 40, was freed on Thursday in the western city of Xining, capital of Qinghai province, Switzerland-based Filming for Tibet said in a statement on its website. It said he was then driven by police to his sister's home about two hours away.
    
Wangchen was arrested in March 2008 and sentenced to six years in prison in late 2009 on charges of trying to split the country.
    
That followed his work on the 20-minute documentary "Leaving Fear Behind," a collection of interviews with Tibetan nomads expressing disgruntlement about Chinese rule in Tibet, just ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Anti-government riots had broken out across Tibetan regions shortly before the Beijing games, leading to harsh punishments and a tightening of restrictions on dissent.
    
Officers answering phones at the Qinghai Provincial Women's Prison, where Wangchen served out the last 17 months of his sentence, hung up on Friday on a researcher attempting to confirm Wangchen's release.
    
The statement quoted Wangchen as telling his cousin in Switzerland in a phone call that he looked forward to recovering his health and reuniting with his wife and children, who live in the United States. He also thanked those who supported him while he was locked away.

(Agencies)

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