A top Chinese human-rights activist has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for writings and comments considered subversive, the New York Times reports. The case of Hu Jia, 34, been watched closely around the world; critics see it as part of a government crackdown on dissidents in advance of the Beijing Olympics. The US pronounced itself “dismayed” by the move and the EU called for his release.
Hu “has consistently worked within China’s legal system to protect the rights of his fellow citizens,” a US Embassy spokesman said. China’s state news agency said Hu had confessed to spreading “malicious rumors” and libel "in an attempt to subvert the state’s political power." His wife, a well-known blogger and rights advocate, is under house arrest with their infant daughter. “I’m very disappointed and very pained,” she told the Times. “Yesterday, I thought he could be back home today.”