By Sasha Padbidri
Just days after blind lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng miraculously escaped from house arrest; the Beijing police have held his friend and fellow government critic Hu Jia for questioning.
Hu was formerly released from prison in June 2011 after a three and a half year sentence for an alleged “attempted subversion of power”. He had been garnering media attention for years due to his support of human rights, people living with AIDs and the environment.
Hu’s wife Zeng Jinyan said on Twitter that “people from the police will come to collect anti-viral medicine. His (Hu’s) detention has been extended to 24 hours. I asked where Hu Jia would sleep, they said on a chair.”
With US-China talks due to start this week, these incidents have placed the US in an awkward position, especially since Chen is believed to be under the protection of the US embassy in Beijing. If that happens to be true, then Chen would be the first Chinese activist to have received protection since Fang Lizhi, a critic of the Tiananmen protests. Fang died last month in the United States after spending two decades in exile.