World News

Jailed China activist Hu Jia may have cancer-wife

BEIJING (Reuters) - Imprisoned Chinese AIDS activist Hu Jia is suffering from a serious disease, possibly liver cancer, his wife said on Thursday after making a formal appeal to security forces to release him on medical parole.

Hu’s mother saw a suspected diagnosis of liver cancer on a consent form she was asked to sign when he was taken to a prison hospital for tests on March 30, his wife Zeng Jinyan said.

Hu, 36, who already suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, has been in ill-health for months, she told Reuters in an interview, but was unexpectedly kept on in the hospital after the tests.

The results were supposed to be released on April 2, Zeng said, but his family have been told that they are not out yet.

“I suspect there are two possible reasons why we haven’t received results -- either it is a difficult and complicated disease that is hard to diagnose, or this is a situation that will be very hard to resolve with an outlook for the patient that is not very optimistic.”

Zeng said she has asked authorities to release Hu so he can be treated at home, because prison food and living conditions will make any illness he has get rapidly worse, she said.

He is a strict vegetarian, so does not get proper nourishment from prison food, has to do labor that is difficult for him because of his weak body and he has trouble sleeping, she said.

Hu was awarded the European Union’s top human rights prize in 2008, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of thought.

Starting with advocacy for rural AIDS sufferers, Hu emerged as one of China’s most vocal advocates of democratic rights, religious freedom and of self-determination for Tibet.

He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison by a Chinese court in April 2008. Since 2004 he had spent long spells under house arrest or in illegal detention in unknown locations.

Editing by Sugita Katyal