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China rights activist released from prison after 3 years

Prominent Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia [advocacy blog; JURIST news archive] was released from prison on Sunday after serving three years for a subversion conviction. Hu was formally charged in February 2008 and subsequently sentenced 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 were denied [JURIST report]. It is likely that Hu will be placed on house arrest [Irish Times report], be deprived of his political rights for one year and be prohibited from speaking to the media.

Hu was awarded the Sakharov Prize [press release] in October 2008 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. China has been criticized for an increase in political arrests [press release; JURIST report] leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including the trial of Hu and the conviction [JURIST reports] of Yang Chunlin [AI profile] for the same "inciting subversion of state power" crime [PRC Criminal Law article 105, PDF] with which activist Liu Xiaobo was charged [JURIST report] in June 2009.

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