Jailed Chinese Dissident Hu Jia Is Honored

Beijing denounces the action and threatens Europe with reprisals.

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Jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia, who was profiled by U.S. News in February, was honored Thursday by the European Union despite Beijing's warning that such an action would seriously harm its relations with the 27-nation bloc.

Members of the European Parliament selected Hu for the Sakharov Prize from among finalists that also included candidates from Belarus and Congo. The prize is named in honor of the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

"Hu Jia is one of the real defenders of human rights in the People's Republic of China," said European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering.

Chinese authorities dismissed the human-rights recognition as improper interference in the country's internal affairs. "We all know what kind of person Hu Jia is. He is a criminal, convicted on the charge of inciting subversion of government," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a news briefing in Beijing.

The bespectacled activist had been something of a one-man human-rights band, maintaining close contacts with dissidents and their families, tirelessly gathering information, and sending it out on the Web for the world to see.

After a trial in March, part of a pre-Olympics crackdown on dissent, he was sentenced to 3½ years in jail.