UK & World News
Chinese Dissident Arrested After TV Interview
An outspoken Chinese dissident has been placed under house arrest a day after he appeared in an interview with Sky News.
Hu Jia, 40, criticised his government in the interview and in a daily stream of blogs on social media.
He agreed to speak to Sky News in the knowledge that he could face arrest, but in a phone interview this morning he said he did not think the interview alone had prompted his arrest.
"House arrest is a norm in my life," he said on the phone from his home. "Having freedom is abnormal for me.
"Like the times when I have been arrested before, I have not been told why I am being detained, nor have I been told when this period of house arrest will end.
"There are four people, sometimes more, in the courtyard of my home. If they see me leave my home they will stop me and tell me I am not allowed to go out. 'Please do what we say' they tell me. This is the most polite way. Sometimes they behave really badly.
"This is nothing new. Just big guys to stop me from going anywhere; making my home into a prison, that's how they do it."
In last week's interview Mr Hu described the Chinese Communist Party as no different from the former Soviet government.
"This country has a regime which rules by fear. Citizens are surrounded by a wall of fear, unable to express themselves," he said.
"I think the Chinese communist government are the same as the former Soviet Union, even the German Nazi Party.
"This is one big prison. I don't want to be inside a prison, I want to be a free man. I will express myself freely. Nothing should stop me from expressing my opinions."
He is used to house arrest having already spent several years unable to leave his own home. That had followed three years in jail as punishment for his outspoken views.
Mr Hu's Sky interview was aired last Friday, but it was filmed several days before. By coincidence, a number of other outspoken individuals were arrested on the same day, prompting some commentators in Hong Kong, where the media operates with more freedom, to refer to it as "Black Friday".
The Chinese government is significantly intensifying its efforts to crack down on those who speak out against it.
The government claims the tighter restrictions are in place to "drain toxic lies from the internet" and to rid social networks of "malicious" and "libellous" content.
However, there is growing evidence that the authorities are simply rounding up critics of the communist leadership at an unprecedented pace.