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China 25 November 2008

Beijing police prevent European parliamentarian from visiting jailed dissident’s wife

Reporters Without Borders deplores the behaviour of the Chinese police in preventing European parliament member Helga Trüpel from visiting Zeng Jinyan, the wife of jailed dissident Hu Jia, in her Beijing apartment building today. Foreign journalists who wanted to visit Zeng were also turned back.

Hu Jia is this year’s winner of the European parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

"How can the Chinese police show so much contempt to a member of the European parliament and to foreign journalists, refusing to let them see a Chinese citizen who wanted to meet them?" Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge the Chinese authorities to lift all the restrictions surrounding Zeng Jinyan and her daughter, and to release Hu Jia at once so that he can go to Strasbourg to receive his prize."

When Trüpel, a German MEP, arrived at about 3 p.m. today at the Beijing apartment building where Zeng and her one-year-old daughter live, police and guards physically prevented her from going through the gate. The journalists were also turned back although the rules for the foreign press grant them freedom to interview. The police also refused to take the present Trüpel had brought for the girl, making her the world’s youngest political prisoner.

Trüpel told Reporters Without Borders: "It was a very unfriendly situation. Firstly, the secret services followed us by car and were clearly waiting for us outside the apartment building. I wanted to see Zeng Jinyan, whom I already met two years ago. She confirmed to us by phone that she was not allowed to come and see us. I told her by phone that we were proud of her."

The German MEP from the Green party added: "Preventing a member of the European Parliament to meet Zeng Jinyan, Hu Jia’s wife, reveals that Chinese authorities are furious and unwilling even to open the door to negotiations."

Trüpel is part of a group of MEPs who are visiting China. During a meeting with Chinese parliamentarians, an official was very critical of the European parliament’s decision to award the Sakharov prize to the "criminal" Hu Jia.

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