June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident, was released today after spending more than three years in a Beijing prison, his wife said.
He returned home at 2:30 a.m. local time, Zeng Jinyan said in a Twitter message. “Sleepless night,” she wrote. “Safe, very happy.” Hu and his wife live in an eastern suburb of the Chinese capital.
Hu’s release was expected as his prison term was set to end today. A leading campaigner in China for AIDS sufferers, environmental issues and civil rights, Hu, 37, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail in 2008 for “inciting subversion,” several months before the European Parliament awarded him its top human rights prize, named after the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.
Chinese authorities released dissident artist Ai Weiwei on bail on June 22, the official Xinhua News Agency said in a report that day. Ai, who was detained on April 3 at Beijing airport, was let out because of “his good attitude in confessing his crimes,” willingness to pay taxes he owes, and his chronic disease, Xinhua said.
Ai’s sister Gao Ge said in a telephone interview that while her brother was thinner, he appeared otherwise fine.
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, says Ai was one of more than 100 people detained in China this year in “the largest crackdown on dissent in over a decade.”
One of the activists, Chen Guangcheng, a blind village advocate of law in eastern Shandong province, has been kept under unofficial house arrest with his wife since he was released from jail last fall, according to the Associated Press.
--Wenxin Fan. Editors: Paul Tighe, Nerys Avery
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