A prominent activist who publicised human rights abuses across China has been convicted of subversion and jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Hu Jia, 34, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power and the socialist system”, his lawyer said. He has long campaigned for the environment, religious freedom and for the rights of people with HIV and Aids. His sentence comes a day after a rights group accused China of a campaign to silence dissent ahead of the Olympics. The US was “dismayed” by the verdict, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Beijing said, while the European Union called for Mr Hu’s immediate release.

“We said very clearly before the trial that he should not have been detained in the first place and that he should be released and this remains our position,” Beijing spokesman William Fingleton told the French news agency AFP.

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