According to Zeng, Hu Jia appeared pale, sweaty, and complained of sharp pain on the left side of his abdomen; he was so ill that he was unable to spend all of the time allotted for the visit with his wife, and had to leave early.
On 16 January, Zeng applied again for Hu’s release on medical parole, reiterating that he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 2006, and that his condition has worsened since his incarceration.
This is Zeng’s seventh application on her husband’s behalf, but she has yet to receive a response to any of the previous six.
She blames poor nutrition and living conditions at the prison for the rapid decline in her husband’s condition. Hu has been in detention since December 2007
She suspects her husband has liver cancer. However, prison doctors who examined him ruled liver cancer but withheld their report from Hu's family.
The doctors recommended surgery for liver stones but were unable to perform it at the prison hospital.
Prison authorities did tell Zeng after her protests that Hu was moved to the prison hospital, but did not allow her to visit him or provide her with information about his condition.
Hu, who is Protestant, has been held since late 2007. He was convicted of inciting subversion of state power after he accepted foreign media interviews and published articles online defending human rights. Some of these articles dealt with the forced seizure of housing estates in Beijing to build grandiose Olympic venues.
He has been in the forefront of the fight for human rights since the 1990s and has become a symbol of China’s pro-democracy dissident movement.
In December 2008, the European Parliament recognised his activities with the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Since the end of 2008, international groups have complained that Hu’s health was rapidly deteriorating because of substandard prison conditions and the lack of appropriate medical care (see “Imprisoned activist Hu Jia's life in danger,” in AsiaNews, 2 October 2008).