YAN’AN, China – Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident whose activism on behalf of the environment and AIDS suffers landed him in prison for the last three and a half years, was released in the pre-dawn hours Sunday and returned to his home in Beijing, his wife said in a Twitter posting.
“Sleepless night,” Hu Jia’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, posted on Twitter. “Hu Jia arrived home at 2:30 in the morning. Safe, very happy. Needs to rest for awhile. Thanks, everyone.”
Hu was arrested in December 2007, and convicted by a Beijing court in April 2008 of “incitement to subvert state power,” a catchall law frequently used to target critics of China’s authoritarian Communist government. Hu, 37, began as an environmental campaigner, and took up the cause of victims of HIV and AIDS in China, before his activism led him to become increasingly critical of the government.
At the time, human rights groups and others said the authorities wanted to remove an outspoken critic before the start of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, which cast an international spotlight on the Communist government’s human rights record.