20 March 2008


Hu Jia's trial "extremely troubling"; friends and colleagues reportedly detained to prevent their talking to media

Incident details

Hu Jia, Teng Biao

(PEN/IFEX) - The following is an 18 March 2008 PEN American Center press release:

Trial Reinforces Fears Hu Jia Is Being Silenced for His Writings

New York, New York, March 18, 2008 - PEN American Center today called reports of the trial of prominent activist and writer Hu Jia "extremely troubling and discouraging," saying the proceedings apparently did nothing but underscore the fact that Hu is being prosecuted for his writings and public statements in clear violation of Chinese and international law.

Hu Jia is a freelance journalist and blogger, and one of China's most visible and respected civil rights, environmental, and AIDS activists. He was arrested December 27, 2007 at his home in Beijing on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power" after publishing a letter entitled "The Real China and the Olympics" and other pieces critical of the Chinese government. He was officially charged on January 30, 2008 by the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate, and this morning stood trial before the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People's Court. Reports indicate that his lawyers were given only 20 minutes to deliver a defense during the four-hour session and were prevented from responding or interjecting throughout the proceedings, and that the charges against him are based on six articles Hu published and two press interviews that he had given.

Although the trial was supposedly public, international observers and diplomats were reportedly barred from the courtroom, as were Hu's father and wife. A number of Hu's friends and colleagues were reportedly detained and moved to locations outside Beijing to prevent them from speaking to the media outside the courtroom, including Dr. Teng Biao, a lawyer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center with whom Hu had collaborated on "The Real China and the Olympics." Teng was detained an hour and a half before the trial began and held for more than eight hours.

"We are extremely concerned that Chinese authorities, for all their promises to improve human rights before the Olympics, would try a prominent dissident in a perfunctory hearing on charges that so clearly violate his right to freedom of expression," said Larry Siems, Director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. "We understand a verdict is due in the next week. The world will certainly be watching the outcome of this important case."

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of International PEN, the world's oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. The Freedom to Write Program of PEN American Center works to protect the freedom of the written word wherever it is imperiled. It defends writers and journalists from all over the world who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted, or attacked in the course of carrying out their profession. For more information on Hu Jia and the other 37 writers, journalists, and bloggers who are currently imprisoned in China, please see http://www.pen.org/china2008
Updates the Hu Jia case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91605


PEN American Center
588 Broadway, #303
New York, NY 10012
Fax:+1 212 334 2181
More from China
  • Freedom on the Net 2018: China

    The level of internet freedom declined due to the new cybersecurity law which strengthened repressive restrictions on online activities.

  • Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China.

    Based on extensive interviews with writers, poets, artists, activists, and others personally affected by the government’s grip on online expression, as well as interviews with anonymous employees at Chinese social media companies, the report lays bare the destructive impact of the Chinese government’s vision of “cyber sovereignty” on netizens who dare to dissent.

  • Ten-Year Edition: A Decade of Decline

    The general trend over the past 10 years has been bleak, with an overall negative trajectory for press freedom. The major turning point was the election of Xi Jinping as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in 2012 and President of China in 2013.

More from Asia & Pacific


  • The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14

    Journalism in South Asia is far from an easy profession, as the 12th annual review of journalism in the region "The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14" portrays. But this year's report also tells the story of the courage of South Asia's journalists to defend press freedom and to ensure citizens' right to information and freedom of expression in the face of increasing challenges to the profession and personal safety.

  • THE STORIES WOMEN JOURNALISTS TELL: Women in Media in South Asia

    The report is the first created by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) looking specifically at the experience of women journalists in the South Asia sub-region