04/03/2008, 00.00
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Chinese dissident leader Hu Jia, condemned for subversion

The activist, well known for his battle against AIDS and in favour of a free Tibet, was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and condemned to three and a half years in prison. His lawyer says the sentence is instrumentalised and against the Constitution; the US and EU ask for his immediate release.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Beijing Number One Intermediate People's Court  has condemned Hu Jia, well known human rights activist, to three and a half years in prison, for having “incited subversion against state power”.  Li Fangping, his lawyer confirmed the sentence, adding: “we propose that Hu Jia appeal this sentence but it is up to him and we will wait for his decision. We have not had a chance to exchange ideas with him so far."

34 year old Hu, is well known in China for his campaign in favour of AIDS sufferers and against the spreading of the HIV virus.  He has always battled for democracy in China, for complete religious freedom and for a revision of the situation in Tibet, which “should be free to decide its own future”.

Over time he has also become a reference point for Chinese dissidents: he has gathered articles, prepared legal appeals and presented reports of other opponents to the Chinese regime to the International community.  He has collaborated with international media and foreign embassies, providing material regarding the violation of human rights committed by the Communist Party.

Evidence presented against Hu in court included interviews he gave to foreign media and political articles that he wrote for the internet, but above all his “relations with foreign powers, bent on discrediting China”.  According to his lawyer, the sentence has been instrumentalised: “The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, and he has always worked to uphold this right.  This is a case of political manoeuvring to crackdown on all forms of protest ahead of the Olympics”.

Hu was arrested last December in his home in Beijing by a group of police in riot gear.  His wife, Zeng Jinan, was placed under house arrest for having supported her husband along with their baby daughter, only months old.  Friends of the couple have launched an appeal against the detention of the child, who risks suffering the consequences of malnutrition.

The sentence has provoked an outcry from the International community. William Fingleton, spokesperson for the US embassy in Beijing says : “We said very clearly before the trial that he should not have been detained in the first place and that he should be released and this remains our position”. The European Union has followed in line, and yesterday its representative to the Chinese government asked for the immediate release of Hu and his family.



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