( dpa ) - The United States raised concerns Thursday about the prison sentence of more than three years handed down to Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia and called for his release.
"The United States is dismayed by the sentence of three and a half years in prison that was announced today in the case of prominent Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said.
Hu worked within China's legal system to promote civil rights and and his effort to institute the rule of law "should be applauded rather than suppressed or punished," Casey said.
Hu, 34, has a leading advocate for the rights of Chinese inflicted with HIV/AIDS. His sentence came as Beijing has been under fire for the crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet protesting Chinese rule and as China prepares to host the Olympics this summer.
"In this Olympic year, we'd want to see the Chinese take the opportunity to put their best face forward and take steps to improve their standing on human rights and religious freedom," Casey said.