A crusading Chinese rights lawyer whose disappearance more than a year ago caused an international outcry said Wednesday that he is abandoning his once prominent role as a government critic in hopes he’ll be allowed to reunite with his family.

In an exclusive interview, his first since he resurfaced two weeks ago, Gao Zhisheng said he did not wish to discuss his disappearance and whether he had been held and mistreated by the authorities. He appeared thinner and more subdued than the stocky, pugnacious civil rights defender of the past, though he said his health was fine.