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China 20 February 2008

Hu Jia allowed visit by family, surveillance of home stepped up

Zeng Jinyan and 3-month-daughter

After imprisoned human rights activist Hu Jia was formally charged on 29 January, police stepped up surveillance of the home he shares with his wife in a Beijing apartment building. The police took over an apartment (No. 552) near the couple’s apartment (No. 542) and three security cameras were installed in the grounds of the complex. Between four and eight policemen continue to be stationed permanently at the entrance to the building.

Hu received a visit from his lawyer Li Jinsong in prison on 4 February. The lawyer said Hu showed no sign of being mistreated. His three cell-mates are non-political detainees.

Hu’s parents and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, were able to visit him on 10 February, but Zeng was not allowed to take their baby daughter. Several prison guards monitored the meeting. Zeng said Jia appeared “tired and stressed.” The prison has given him the medicine he needs.

Zeng has received permission to leave the apartment three times in the past two weeks. On two of these occasions, she took the baby to see a doctor. Each time she went out, neighbours said they saw policemen enter the apartment.

On 11 February, Zeng recovered several items previously confiscated by the police, including her mobile phone.

-  January 31st

Reporters Without Borders said today it was outraged by the charge of "inciting subversion of state power” made against dissident Hu Jia, who has been held secretly in Beijing for more than a month.

His family was notified in writing on 29 January by the prosecutor’s office that Hu Jia, who is suffering from liver disease, was to be put on trial. He risks a harsh prison sentence.

“Are the authorities in Beijing so deaf that they have not heard the appeals for clemency for Hu Jia, from China and the rest of the world?” the worldwide press freedom organisation asked.

“This charge is an insult to the diplomatic efforts of many countries who have expressed their views following the arrest of this free expression activist, six months ahead of the Olympic Games,” it added.

A spokesperson for Chinese Human Rights Defenders confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that Hu Jia’s family had been told about the charge on 30 January, just two days before the end of the legal time limit for being held in custody.

Hu Jia is still held secretly in Beijing. His lawyers have not been allowed to visit him and have been followed by the political police wherever they go.

Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, and their two-month-old daughter are still under house arrest in the capital - making the baby girl effectively the world’s youngest political prisoner.

First the European Parliament, but also the United States and the European Commission have all appealed to the Chinese authorities on behalf of Hu Jia.

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