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Prominent Chinese Dissident Pleads Not Guilty to Subversion

A prominent Chinese dissident, Hu Jia, pleaded not guilty to subversion charges during his trial Tuesday in Beijing.

Speaking with reporters after the 3.5 hour proceeding, Hu's lawyer Li Fangping said a verdict could be announced as early as this week.

Prosecutors charged that Hu incited subversion of state power and the socialist system through his postings on the Internet and interviews with foreign reporters.

Hu is an outspoken advocate for AIDS victims in rural China. He was arrested by Chinese authorities during a December raid of his home. Both the United States and the European Union have demanded his release.

Human rights groups charge that the trial is part of the Chinese government's efforts to silence its critics before the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao denied those claims today during an annual news conference in Beijing.

Hu's mother attended the trial, but his wife, who is also an activist, was barred from the proceedings along with his father and uncle.

Hu's wife Zeng Jinyan has been under house arrest with the couple's infant daughter since the raid on their home in December.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.