New appeal for parole of ailing Chinese dissident

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 17, 2011 14:20 hrs

Beijing, Jan 17 (DPA) The wife of prominent Chinese dissident Hu Jia appealed Monday for his parole from prison on medical grounds, saying he had collapsed during a recent prison visit.

Hu suddenly turned pale, began sweating and collapsed with abdominal pain Friday while his wife, Zeng Jinyan, was speaking to him at the Beijing prison, she said in an open letter to prison authorities and the ministry of justice.

Zeng urged the authorities to grant him parole for treatment, including possible surgery, and to give her copies of Hu's medical reports, according to the letter posted on her blog.

Zeng said she had launched an earlier appeal in April, saying Hu's long-term cirrhosis of the liver had worsened and required urgent treatment outside prison.

Prison doctors diagnosed 'subclinical hyperthyroidism' after tests for possible liver cancer in April but withheld their report from Hu's family, she said in Monday's letter.

The doctors also recommended surgery for liver stones but were unable to perform it at the prison hospital, Zeng said.

'We have seen his pain during our meetings, and we are worried about the adverse effects that the long delay in treating his condition could have,' she said.

China sentenced Hu, 37, to three and a half years in prison in March 2008 for 'inciting subversion of state power'.

Many supporters and human rights groups have backed Zeng's campaign for Hu's medical parole, which began in June 2008.

Hu was presented in absentia with the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in December 2008.

His activism began in the late 1990s when the economics graduate volunteered to work on environmental projects.

Hu's advocacy for the rights of people living with HIV in China brought him international attention and several awards.

It also brought police surveillance, and he spent most of the two years before his imprisonment under virtual house arrest or other forms of detention.

Hu used his enforced isolation to act as a bridge between foreign media and the growing number of rights activists across China.