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Imprisoned Chinese activist seeks medical parole

BEIJING (AP) — The wife of jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia has appealed to prison authorities for her husband's release, saying he has a serious disease that she fears might turn into liver cancer.

But a lawyer for Hu, one of China's most well-known activists, said Thursday that an official at the prison has already told him parole would not be possible.

Hu is serving a 3 1/2-year jail term for sedition that is set to end in June 2011. The charge stems from police accusations that he had planned to work with foreigners to disturb the Olympic Games.

A letter from Hu's wife, Zeng Jinyan, to Beijing prison authorities says Hu's mother saw a possible diagnosis of liver cancer on a consent form for medical tests on Hu late last month. Hu has been in the prison hospital since March 30.

"Tests showed an unidentified object about three centimeters long on Hu Jia's liver," the letter says.

The letter dated Wednesday asks that Hu be sent home for better care.

"His health has been bad and has not been diagnosed yet," Zeng told The Associated Press. "I fear there are other reasons why they don't tell us what the diagnosis is."

She said the consent form Hu's mother saw last month had the words "liver cancer" with a question mark next to them.

Another request for medical parole last year was rejected, and Zeng said she was not optimistic about the new request.

An official with the Beijing Prison Administration said Thursday evening he had not heard about the appeal.

But Beijing-based lawyer Li Fangping said an official with Beijing No. 1 Prison personally told him, "No way."

"We should get a written reply," Li said. "If we receive a written reply, we will appeal to the Beijing Prison Administration."

The slightly built Hu, 36, has had liver problems in the past, including cirrhosis.

In late 2008, Hu won the European Parliament's top human rights prize.

Initially an advocate for the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, Hu expanded his efforts.

From his apartment where he was often under house arrest, Hu used the Internet and telephone to chronicle the harassment and arrests of other dissidents. He also published a series of articles accusing authorities of neglecting and playing down human rights issues ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Zeng in the past has said Hu's jailers forced him to rake leaves for seven hours a day, despite his health condition.

"I have cirrhosis because I've been fighting against police in the past five years," Hu said in an interview in early 2008. "The Chinese believe anger harms your liver. There have been too many fights, too much bleeding."

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Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.