A prominent activist who publicised human rights abuses across China has been convicted of subversion and jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Hu Jia, 34, was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power and the socialist system", his lawyer said.
He has long campaigned for the environment, religious freedom and for the rights of people with HIV and Aids.
His sentence comes a day after a rights group accused China of a campaign to silence dissent ahead of the Olympics.
The US was "dismayed" by the verdict, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Beijing said, while the European Union called for Mr Hu's immediate release.
"We said very clearly before the trial that he should not have been detained in the first place and that he should be released and this remains our position," Beijing spokesman William Fingleton told the French news agency AFP.
Hu Jia's case has attracted a great deal of international attention, both from rights groups and Western diplomats.
Before his arrest late last year, he had been an outspoken critic of China's record on a variety of human rights issues.
Anguish over sentence
Correspondents say he had become a kind of one-man clearing house for information, passing it on to journalists, organisations and foreign embassies.
Evidence presented against Mr Hu in court included interviews he gave to foreign media and political articles that he wrote for the internet, lawyer Li Fangping said.
"As lawyers we propose that Hu Jia appeal this sentence but it is up to him and we will wait for his decision," Mr Li said.
"We have not had a chance to exchange ideas with him so far."
Chinese state news agency Xinhua said the court had been lenient with Mr Hu because he had admitted his crimes.
"Hu spread malicious rumours, libel and instigation in an attempt to subvert the state's political and socialist systems," Xinhua said, quoting the court ruling.
Mr Hu's conviction comes only two weeks after another activist, Yang Chunlin, was jailed on similar charges.
On Wednesday, UK-based rights group Amnesty International accused Beijing of carrying out a "wave of repression" ahead of the Olympic Games.
The authorities were targeting those who criticised the government in a bid to present a stable and harmonious image when the Games began in August, the group said.
In response, the China Society for Human Rights Studies accused Amnesty of bias and of ignoring positive developments in the country's human rights record.
Last month, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was asked about Hu Jia's case. He said it should be handled according to the law.
"As for critics' view that China is trying to increase its efforts to arrest dissidents ahead the Olympic Games, I think all these accusations are unfounded," he said.
READ THE AMNESTY REPORT HERE:-[URL]http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_19505.pdf[/URL][br]READ THE OXFAM REPORT HERE:-[br][URL]http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/downloads/5yrs_illegality_dismantle_wall_palestine.pdf[/URL][br][br]"The art world is the biggest joke going. It’s a rest home for the overprivileged, the pretentious, and the weak. And modern art is a disgrace –
Thirty-seven arrests have been made after clashes between pro-Tibet protesters and police as the Olympic torch made its way through London.
Protests over China's human rights record began soon after the relay began at Wembley, and prompted an increasing police presence through the city.
One protester tried to snatch the torch from former Blue Peter host Konnie Huq.
After an unpublicised change to the route, the Chinese ambassador carried the torch through Chinatown.
It later made an unscheduled move onto a bus.
A protective ring of 10 Chinese flame attendants and fluorescent-jacketed police officers surrounded the torchbearers at all times, with additional uniformed officers joining at potential flashpoints along the route.
Police decided the torch should travel along Fleet Street to St Paul's Cathedral by bus, rather than held by a runner, after it was surrounded by a large group of protesters.
A contingent of pro-China supporters also tried to make their voices heard along the route, waving Chinese and Olympic flags and calling for "one China".
I always said my taking part in the procession doesn't mean I condone China in any way Konnie Huq
Outside Downing Street there were chaotic scenes as former Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis took the flame to No 10.
Gordon Brown greeted the torch outside Number 10 despite coming under pressure to boycott the parade and the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. However he did not hold it.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the prime minister's involvement was "wholly inappropriate" until China opened talks with the Dalai Lama.
People cannot just come in and cause havoc with what's being done...and officers have stopped them Jo Kaye Metropolitan Police Commander
Police said there were about 500 people in Whitehall and about 2,000 gathered near the British Museum.
Several small scuffles broke out as police tackled some of the protesters.
Beijing Olympic torch relay spokesman Qu Yingpu told the BBC: "This is not the right time, the right platform, for any people to voice their political views.
"So we are very grateful and very thankful to the people in London, the police and the organisers, for their efforts trying to keep order."
Pictures of the London relay were broadcast on China's state-controlled TV, but not of the protests and disruption.
Metropolitan Police Commander Jo Kaye denied officers had been heavy-handed with some protesters.
"Our duty is to see that that torch is taken safely and securely to the end of its route. We're doing that. We're on schedule. The convoy has kept going according to schedule all the way," he said.
"People cannot just come in and cause havoc with what's being done there and the officers have stopped them. They know quite well that they shouldn't be trying to get in at the torch and they've been stopped."
At the start of the relay, three protesters were taken away by police after trying to board the open-top bus taking the torch from Wembley.
Police also stepped in when a protester later tried to snatch the torch from Ms Huq.
She told BBC News 24 she was "a bit bashed about" but not seriously hurt.
"I always said my taking part in the procession doesn't mean I condone China in any way," she added.
"I believe in the Olympic values, the Olympic ideals... it's just unfortunate that China has such a terrible track record when it comes to human rights and they are the host nation."
Those taking part in the relay include 10 Olympic champions, 18 schoolchildren and public figures such as news reader Sir Trevor McDonald and musician Vanessa Mae.
Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes ran the last stage of the route to complete the relay and lit the Olympic cauldron in front of 5,000 spectators.
The flame will complete the London leg of its journey with a finale event at the O2 Arena. It will then leave for Paris.
Girl band The Sugababes withdrew from the finale at the last minute, saying singer Amelle Berrabah had been diagnosed with laryngitis. They had earlier carried the torch on an open top bus down Oxford Street.
The torch was lit in Olympia, Greece, last week and will go through 20 countries before being carried into the Beijing Games opening ceremony on 8 August.
Last Edit: Apr 7, 2008 8:13:47 GMT 1 by s-editions
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