The award was a pointed rebuke of China's ruling Communist Party that came as European leaders were arriving in Beijing for a weekend summit meeting. Mr. Hu, 35, was given the prize by the European Parliament despite warnings from Beijing that his selection would harm relations with the European Union.
Last year, Mr. Hu testified via video link before a hearing of the European Parliament about China's human rights situation. Weeks later, he was jailed and later sentenced to three and a half years in prison for subversion based on his writings criticizing Communist Party rule.
Mr. Hu has been one of China's leading figures on a range of human rights issues, while also speaking out on behalf of AIDS patients and for environmental protection. He had been considered a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize, but lost to the former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari. "Hu Jia is one of the real defenders of human rights in the People's Republic of China," said the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering. "The European Parliament is sending out a signal of clear support to all those who support human rights in China.
Chinese Activist Wins Rights Prize (NYT). Embedded video above: Prisoners in Freedom City, an autobiographical internet video documentary about his case, available in multiple parts on YouTube (links to single-file editions there). Hu Jia's case is documented and updated regularly on Twitter. His wife and supporters are very concerned about his health in prison; he has symptoms of liver disease, and information about his whereabouts, condition, and treatment in prison is unavailable. See also this related Los Angeles Times editorial: China should free dissident Hu Jia. Here is Amnesty International's statement.