Hu Jia spends 168 days under house arrest.
Police take Hu Jia away from his home and detain him incommunicado for 41 days. His wife Zeng Jinyan starts a blog retracing the steps she takes in trying to find out his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention.
August 2006 to March 2007:
Hu spends 214 days under house arrest.
February 1, 2007:
Hu and Zeng release a documentary about his house arrest and the constant police surveillance they have to endure. “Prisoner of Freedom City” is widely distributed on internet.
Police lift the house arrest of Hu. Hu and Zeng are allowed to travel abroad for a few weeks.
Zeng Jinyan is selected as one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people globally.
May 18, 2007:
Minutes before the couple are to board a flight for a two-month trip to Europe, Hu and Zeng are stopped by police officers. Police reimpose Hu’s house arrest.
August 8, 2007:
Along with 42 Chinese intellectuals and activists, Hu co-signs an open letter, “One World, One Dream: Universal Human Rights,” calling for greater attention to human rights on the occasion of the Olympics.
September 6, 2007:
Hu Jia and Teng Biao, a fellow human rights activist and leading civil rights lawyer, publish an open letter entitled “The Real China and the Olympics.” In this letter, the two authors document specific and wide-ranging violations of human rights by the government, and call on the international community to hold Beijing to the promises it made when bidding to host the Games, which included improving human rights.
Hu and Zeng’s daughter Qianci is born.
November 26, 2007:
Hu testifies via audio link at a European Parliament hearing. In his testimony, he criticizes rights abuses related to the preparations for the Beijing Games and accuses the ruling Chinese Communist Party of using the Olympics as a platform to strengthen itself.
December 27, 2007:
Hu is taken away from his home by the police. Police confiscate all communication equipment, including computers, a video recorder, a digital recorder, and cell phones, including Zeng's cell phone. Zeng and Qianci are confined at home under police surveillance.
December 29, 2007:
Hu’s mother engages lawyer Li Jinsong to serve as Hu's defense counsel.
Zeng and Qianci are confined at home under police surveillance. The police take over an apartment adjacent to the one occupied by Hu and Zeng, install CCTV cameras and prevent any visitors from visiting Zeng and Qianci.
January 2, 2008:
Police turn down the first request by Hu’s lawyer to see his client, on the basis that his case involves “state secrets.” Cases involving “state secrets” in China entail the suspension of critical due process rights for the defendant.
January 7, 2008:
Thirty prominent intellectuals, lawyers, and dissidents publish a petition on behalf of Hu, asking for his release.
January 10, 2008:
Police place one of Hu’s lawyers under police surveillance and confine him at home for a few hours in a Beijing hotel to prevent him from meeting foreign journalists.
January 19, 2008:
A letter from Hu to his family is transmitted by the authorities.
January 25, 2008:
Police turn down a second application from Hu’s lawyer to visit him. Police tell his lawyers that Hu is not eligible for bail.
January 30, 2008:
Hu’s family and his lawyer are notified by the prosecutor’s office that Hu’s formal arrest had been approved on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.”
February 4, 2008:
Hu’s lawyer, Li Jinsong, is able to visit him for the first time. The meeting is monitored by the police. Li reports that Hu showed no signs of having been mistreated.
February 10, 2008:
Zeng is allowed to visit her husband for the first time since his arrest on December 27, 2007.
March 6, 2008:
Teng Biao, who with Hu Jia co-wrote the open letter “The Real China and the Olympics” in September 2007 and who has been active in advocating for Hu, is taken away by the police. During his 40 hours in detention, the police threaten to arrest him and to have him dismissed from his position as university lecturer if he does not stop raising Hu Jia’s case, writing about the Olympics, and accepting interviews from foreign journalists.
March 14, 2008:
Hu Jia’s lawyers and relatives are notified that his trial will open on March 18.
March 15, 2008:
Hu Jia’s wife Zeng Jinyan learns that she will not been allowed to attend the trial.
April 3, 2008:
Beijing's First Intermediate People's Court sentences Hu Jia to three years and a half imprisonment and one year of deprivation of political rights. His lawyers announce their intention to appeal the verdict. The deadline for the appeal is April 13, ten days after the date of the sentence.
April 17, 2008:
Hu’s lawyer Li Fangping tells AFP that the Chinese government has illegally blocked Hu from appealing his prison sentence by the April 13 deadline: “Li said he and other defense lawyers had been repeatedly prevented from visiting their client at the Beijing No. 1 Municipal Detention Centre. On April 13, the last day to lodge an appeal, the detention centre said Hu could not meet with lawyers because he had been sent for a physical examination required before prisoners are formally transferred to prison, Li said.”
July 7, 2008:
Human Rights Watch releases its report, China’s Forbidden Zones: Shutting the Media out of Tibet and Other “Sensitive” Stories, on media censorship in China. The report notes that after Hu’s arrest and subsequent conviction, “the media lost access to him,” and that “police also now routinely block journalists’ physical access to his wife Zeng who has been under house arrest since May 18, 2007.” The report recommends that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) demand the release by the Chinese government of Hu Jia and other jailed or detained “individuals who have been criticized for calling for greater human rights in the run-up to the Beijing Games.”
August 4-24, 2008:
The 2008 Summer Olympic Games are held in Beijing. On August 18, Human Rights Watch issues a press release reiterating long-standing demands that the TOP Olympic sponsors take steps in line with their commitment to corporate social responsibility, including the release of Hu Jia and other activists. None of the twelve TOP sponsors issues a public call for Hu’s release.
September 9, 2008:
The European Parliament announces that Hu Jia has been nominated for the 2008 Sakharov Prize, along with seven other human rights advocates. The winner is to be announced in mid-October, and the award ceremony is to take place at the Strasbourg plenary session on December 17.
September 22, 2008:
Hu Jia leads the shortlist for the 2008 Sakharov Prize, following a vote by the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Development committees. The other two candidates on the shortlist are Alexander Kozulin (Belarus) and Abbot Appollinaire Malu Malu (Democratic Republic of Congo).
October 2, 2008:
On the eve of the six-month anniversary of Hu’s conviction, Human Rights Watch calls on the Chinese government to “immediately exonerate or grant medical parole to imprisoned human rights activist Hu Jia,” and to “cease the harassment and surveillance of Hu’s wife Zeng Jinyan and infant daughter Qianci.”
October 3, 2008:
Six-month anniversary of Hu’s conviction.
The Associated Press (in an article posted by the Washington Post website) notes that Hu Jia and fellow Chinese activist Gao Zhisheng are among the “front-runners” to win the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.
October 10, 2008:
Finland's former President Martti Ahtisaari wins the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. The British daily The Guardian comments: "There had also been speculation that the winner could be the more controversial figure of Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident, to highlight China's human rights record. But in selecting Ahtisaari for the prize, the committee has chosen a safer recipient who is responsible for more traditional peace work."