A Buddhist Chinese dissident outspoken on Tibet and other sensitive topics was jailed for three-and-a-half years on Thursday, a conviction likely to become a focus of rights campaigns ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
Hu Jia, 34, was found guilty of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ for criticising the ruling Communist Party, a verdict at which the United States expressed dismay.
‘In this Olympic year, we urge China to seize the opportunity to put its best face forward and take steps to improve its record on human rights and religious freedom,’ the US Embassy said in a statement.
The official Xinhua news agency said Hu had made a ‘confession of crime and acceptance of punishment,’ leading the court to issue a relatively light sentence. Hu’s two lawyers said he had acknowledged ‘excesses.’
‘In the end, I think that he came to accept that some of his statements were contrary to the law as it stands,’ said defence lawyer Li Jinsong.