The European Parliament has awarded its prestigious human rights prize to jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia, despite objections from Beijing.
The parliament's president (Hans-Gert Poettering) said Thursday that by awarding Hu the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Parliament is sending a signal of clear support for all those who support human rights in China.
Hu is a noted advocate for civil rights, environmental protection, AIDS advocacy, religious freedom and of self-determination for Tibet in China.
He was arrested last December, and later sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for subverting state power. Authorities detained Hu after he testified about China's human rights record via phone to the European Parliament's human rights subcommittee.
China called Hu a criminal this week and warned the European Parliament that recognizing the civil rights campaigner would seriously damage Beijing's relations with Europe.
European Union lawmakers said Beijing's pressure was counterproductive.
The Sakharov Prize is named after the late Soviet physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.