BEIJING: One of China’s most prominent prisoners of conscience , Hu Jia, returned home on Sunday after completing a jail term for subversion but looked likely to be muzzled along with other top dissidents.
The human rights activist’s release after more than three years in prison comes after outspoken artist Ai Weiwei emerged in Beijing last week from nearly three months in police custody amid a government crackdown on dissent.
Hu is widely expected to be hit with the same strict curbs as those applied to Ai and a range of other activists and rights lawyers who have apparently been ordered to keep quiet to gain their freedom.
Hu returned to his home outside Beijing early on Sunday morning, his wife and fellow activist Zeng Jinyan said on Twitter. “On a sleepless night, Hu Jia arrived home at 2.30am. Peaceful, very happy . Need to rest for awhile. Thanks to you all,” she said.
Hu, 37, was jailed on subversion charges in April 2008 just ahead of Beijing Olympics after angering the ruling Communist Party through his years of campaigning for civil rights, the environment, and AIDS sufferers.
Hu’s release at the end of his prison term was long expected. Aside from his jail sentence, Hu also faces one year of “deprivation of political rights” — essentially a ban on political activities. (Agencies)