[JURIST] The trial [HRW case history] of Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia [advocacy blog] began Tuesday on charges of inciting subversion of state power [JURIST news archive]. Hu was formally charged last month after he made public [JURIST reports] letters and recordings from Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng alleging that Gao was tortured into confessing to subversion charges. Two local lawyers told AP that they were not allowed into the hearing due to the "sensitive" nature of the case. Foreign diplomats were also declined entry. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.
Hu supporter Teng Biao, a lawyer who has defended political dissidents, was released by the Chinese government earlier this month after spending two days in custody. In September 2007, Teng and Hu wrote an open letter [text] requesting that the international community investigate China's promises to improve its human rights record. In November 2007, rights group Dui Hua [advocacy website] reported that the number of political arrests in China more than doubled in 2006 and the country has been harshly criticized in recent months for cracking down on human rights activists and political dissidents [JURIST reports] ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.