China calls Nobel contender an undeserving criminal

Thu Oct 9, 2008 8:22am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese government spokesmen said jailed dissident Hu Jia was a criminal undeserving of a Nobel Peace Prize, amplifying Beijing's unhappiness at the possibility Hu could win the honour this year.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said countless other compatriots deserved consideration for the prize, but not Hu Jia, a political activist and Buddhist who has campaigned for AIDS patients, political democracy, Tibetan self-determination and a clutch of other touchy subjects.

A Beijing court sentenced Hu to over three years' jail in April. Hu, in his mid-30s, had already spent many months under house arrest with his wife and child.

Hu's jailing drew condemnation from Washington, across Europe and from human rights advocates, and his energetic campaigning may yet win him the Nobel honour, worth $1.4 million (811,204 pounds). He has climbed to the top spot with some online bookmakers.

Qin made it plain Beijing would be outraged if Hu is named in Oslo on Friday.

"Everyone knows what sort of person Hu Jia is. He is a criminal who because he committed the crime of inciting subversion of state power, he was sentenced to a prison term by Chinese judicial authorities according to the law," Qin told a regular news conference.

"If the so-called prize is given to this kind of person, that would crude meddling in China's domestic affairs, in its judicial independence and sovereignty," he added.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by David Fox)