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Business - Written by on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 17:24 - 0 Comments

Chinese rights activist stands trial for “treasonous” blog

Reported today in the New York Times, Hu Jia, a Chinese rights activitist was convicted of subversion for posting critical comments about the government’s treatment of peasants on his blog. Here is an example of his account of how he has been treated. From the article:

One of the most prominent human rights advocates in China stood trial on Tuesday morning on subversion charges in a proceeding that lasted three hours and centered on whether his public criticism of the ruling Communist Party represented a threat to the state. A verdict is possible within a week.

The case of the advocate, Hu Jia, has become an international cause célèbre for many human rights groups that contend the Communist Party is rounding up dissidents to silence criticism of the government before the Olympics in Beijing in August.

On Monday, the European Union presidency called on China to release Mr. Hu and said his arrest undermined the principle of free speech enshrined in the Chinese Constitution.

Mr. Hu, 34, has publicly condemned the Communist Party for failing to fulfill its promises to improve its rights record before the Olympic Games. His lawyer said that prosecutors presented as evidence six unspecified essays written by Mr. Hu and two interviews he conducted with foreign radio outlets.

“We believe his articles are expressing peaceful views that do not concern state security but that represent criticism of the current system,” his lawyer, Li Fangping, said after the trial.

Mr. Li acknowledged that some of Mr. Hu’s comments have been “pungent,” but argued that the government should not ban speech.

There is a discussion underway at the Wall St. Journal Law Blog.

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