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Outspoken activist Hu Jia arrested in Beijing

(RSF/IFEX) - The arrest of leading human rights activist Hu Jia on 27 December 2007 at his Beijing home is condemned "with the utmost firmness" by RSF. Hu is accused of "subverting state authority," a charge often used by the Chinese government against dissidents.

"The political police have taken advantage of the international community's focus on Pakistan to arrest one of the foremost representatives of the peaceful struggle for free expression in China," the press freedom organisation said. "Together with the Fondation de France, we had just awarded Hu and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, a special prize on 5 December for their courageous stance in defence of human rights in the approach to next year's Olympic Games in Beijing."

RSF added: "We express our solidarity with Hu and Zeng and their six-week-old daughter and we urge the European Union and the rest of the international community to rally to Hu's defence so that he does not become another victim of China's pre-Olympics repression."

Aged 34, Hu was at home with his wife, Zeng, who is also a blogger and activist, as well as Zeng's
grandmother and their six-week-old daughter, Hu Qianci, when 20 policemen burst in at around 3:00 p.m. (local time) on 27 December, disconnected their Internet connection and phone lines to prevent them from telling the outside world, and arrested Hu.

According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), police officers remained in the house after Hu had been taken away in order to prevent Zeng from telling anyone what had happened. They showed her a warrant for his arrest for "subverting state authority". No one knows where he is now being held.

Both Hu and Zeng are human rights and environmental activists and bloggers. They had
been under a form of house arrest in Beijing since 18 May.

Using his webcam, Hu participated in a European parliamentary hearing in Brussels on 26 November on the human rights situation in China. He said at one point during the hearing: "It is ironic that one of the people in charge of organising the Olympic Games is the head of the Bureau of Public Security, which is responsible for so many human rights violations. It is very serious that the official promises are not being kept before the games."

Hu also used a webcam to speak to the press during the award ceremony organised by RSF in Paris on 5 December.

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