• 2001

2001: Gao Zhisheng named "one of China's top ten lawyers" in an event co-organized by a China Central TV and the Ministry of Justice

  • 2004

December 31, 2004: Gao published his first open “Letter to the National People’s Congress,” appealing to the central government to stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners.

  • 2005

October 18, 2005: Gao wrote a second letter to the central government calling on them to halt the continuing torture and ill-treatment of detained Falun Gong practitioners. Afterwards, Gao started receiving threatening phone calls and came under round-the-clock police surveillance.

November 4, 2005: Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice ordered Gao’s law firm to suspend practice for one year.

December 12, 2005: Gao wrote a third letter to the central government on the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

  • 2006

August 2006: Gao was detained, stripped of his lawyers’ license and charged with “inciting subversion of state power”

December 22, 2006: Gao was sentenced to three years in prison, with a five-year probation, and deprived of his political rights for one year.

  • 2007

June 2007: Gao was rewarded “Courageous Advocacy Award” of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)

September 12, 2007: Gao sent an open letter to the US Congress denouncing the human rights situation in China and calling on the US government to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Shortly after, Gao was disappeared for over fifty days. He later described being severely tortured by Chinese police during this period.

  • 2009

January 2009: Gao's wife, Geng He, and two children fled to the US

February 2009: Gao was disappeared again by Chinese security officers and held incommunicado for more than a year.

  • 2010

January 2010: Gao's brother, Gao Zhiyi, told journalists that the Beijing police told him that Gao "lost his way and went missing.” For months, the government had denied knowing Gao’s whereabouts or any involvement in his disappearance.

January 21, 2010: In response to a journalist’s question about Gao’s whereabouts, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said, “He is where he should be.” This was the first official acknowledgement of knowledge about Gao’s whereabouts.

March 2010: Gao briefly reappeared and met reporters.

April 2010: In an interview with the Associated Press, Gao said that he had been repeatedly tortured by police during his 14-month disappearance.

April 20, 2010: Gao went missing again, and his whereabouts were again unknown until December 16, 2011

August 2010: Gao was awarded with “International Human Rights Lawyer Award” by US National Bar Association

  • 2011

December 16, 2011: Xinhua, China’s state news agency, reported that a Beijing court had determined that Gao had violated probation rules and would therefore have to serve out the three-year sentence initially delivered in December 2006.

  • 2014

August 7 2014: Gao is scheduled to be released from prison