Ailing democracy activist Zhu Yufu has been subjected to abusive treatment at his jail in the eastern province of Zhejiang following an international campaign for his release, relatives and rights groups say.
Prison authorities have handed out "punitive abuses" to Zhu, 60, after his relatives traveled to the United States to garner more support for his release, the China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.
"Authorities at Zhejiang Province No. 4 Prison have reportedly canceled nutritious meals for Zhu, who in May has suffered several fainting spells due to weakness," the group said.
Zhu's wife Jiang Hangli said she was extremely concerned for her husband's health following her most recent visit to the Zhejiang No. 4 Prison on Tuesday.
The family has already repeatedly asked that Zhu be released on medical parole, to no avail, and Jiang's most recent application was turned down on Tuesday, she said.
Prison officials told her that the reports of Zhu's ill health were "not factual," and warned her to be careful of what she said in public, Jiang said in an interview on Wednesday.
"They said he didn't qualify for medical parole," she said, adding that she had been accompanied on her visit by a number of police and officials, who had recorded and filmed the entire meeting.
"They said I had been saying too much ... and that this wasn't good for Zhu," she said.
"They said his medical condition was fine, and that they had medical records, but they didn't give them to me; they just put them on the table," Jiang said.
"I took a peek, but they wouldn't let me read them in detail."
Denied phone calls and letters
According to CHRD, Zhu has been denied his monthly phone call to his family, to which prisoners are entitled. He was also being prevented from sending or receiving letters, it said.
The U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid said Zhu had reported fainting spells linked to his angina and high blood pressure, but a prison official said Zhu was faking the symptoms.
"[The prison] has downgraded his meal plan and forbidden him to make calls to his family," it said.
"ChinaAid condemns the prison for its illegal acts in depriving Zhu of his legitimate rights and urges the prison to provide him humanitarian medical treatment and release him as soon as possible on medical parole," the group said.
China Democracy Party
Fellow Zhejiang activist Chen Shuqing said he and other members of the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP), of which Zhu was a founding member, accompanied to the jail when she visited on Tuesday.
"I spoke to a [prison official] surnamed Wang, who told me that overseas media reports and what Jiang was saying was not true," Chen said.
"We also recorded and filmed the visit," he said.
Zhu was given a seven-year jail term in January 2012 for "incitement to subvert state power" after he penned a poem calling on the Chinese people to vote with their feet.
At his trial, the prosecution cited as evidence a poem, “It Is Time,” that Zhu wrote and shared during online calls for 'Jasmine' rallies inspired by protests in the Middle East in early 2011.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.