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Bern expresses worry over Chinese dissident

Swiss authorities have expressed their "strong concern" over the conviction earlier this week of Chinese dissident Hu Jia.

This content was published on April 5, 2008 - 14:12

Hu was sentenced on Thursday to three and a half years in prison after being found guilty of "inciting subversion of state power" for criticising the ruling Communist Party

After the verdict was announced, Bern summoned the Chinese chargée d'affaires, Quian Peizhan, the French-language newspaper Le Temps reported on Saturday.

Swiss foreign ministry spokeswoman Carine Carey confirmed the report, saying that Hu's conviction was punishment for the "peaceful use of his rights and freedoms as defined by international human rights norms".

In Saturday's edition of the newspaper Le Matin, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said she favoured dialogue rather than a possible boycott of the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing in August.

She added that a boycott was "the way of isolation" and had to be carefully considered.

The Swiss government is shortly due to discuss the situation in Tibet and the plans by this year's president, Pascal Couchepin, to visit the Beijing ceremony.

An open letter signed by 176 parliamentarians has called on Swiss authorities to take a stand on what they called the "Chinese violence" in Tibet.

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