[JURIST] Hu Jia [advocacy blog; JURIST news archive], a Chinese human rights activist convicted in April on charges of inciting subversion of state power [JURIST news archive], was awarded the Sakharov Prize [press release] on Thursday by the European Parliament [official website], for his fight for democracy. Hu has become prominently known as an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and a defender of religious freedom and human rights in China. He was sentenced by China to more than three years in prison after he made public [JURIST reports] letters and recordings from Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng alleging that Gao was tortured into confessing to subversion charges. His appeals have been denied [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought [EU backgrounder], awarded each year by the European Parliament, was set up in 1988 to honor individuals or organizations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Named after Russian physicist Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov [autobiographical profile], who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 and is called the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, the award is given to "exceptional individuals or organizations fighting against oppression, intolerance and injustice." Past winners have included Alexander Milinkevich [JURIST report], UN Secretary General Kofi Annan [official profile], Nelson Mandela [Nobel Peace Prize profile], and Oswaldo Jose Paya Sardinas [official website, in Spanish], one of Cuba's most prominent dissidents.