Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hu Jia on Trial

The annual National People's Congress ended with the highlighted event of a press conference by the reelected Premier Wen Jiabao. When asked if the Chinese government was arresting dissidents to silence them ahead of the Olympic Games, Wen categorically claimed such accusations as totally unfounded.

Shortly after the press conference, dissident Hu Jia was on trial at the Beijing Number One Intermediate People's Court for charges of "inciting subversion of state power". According to his lawyer, the evidence of his charge consists several articles he had written and published overseas. Hu did not dispute his authorship of his articles, other than claiming that one of them was actually a private communication with a friend, which was published without his knowledge. His lawyer, Li Fangping, tried to defend his case on the ground of freedom of speech.

Hu's mother attended the trial. His wife and father were listed as prosecutor witnesses and therefore barred from observing, although none of them were called to testify. As it is usually the case, the trial proceeding is very short and a verdict/sentence is expected within the week.

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