On Thursday, a Chinese court upheld an 11 year prison term given to prominent Chinese scholar Liu Xiaobo who had called for political reform. This is the latest in a string of harsh punishments for dissenters, according to CNN. Xiaobo, 53, was arrested and charged with inciting subversion of state power last June.

According to CNN, Xiaobo was detained on Dec. 8, 2008 and held under “residential surveillance” as police investigated his case. His hearing took place Beijing’s high court, and the trial lasted less than 10 minutes. The activist was not given a chance to speak, and shouted "I’m innocent!" before being taken away.

In an emailed statement, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman said “persecution of individuals for the peaceful expression of political views is inconsistent with internationally recognized norms of human rights,” according to the Washington Post. It was is the first statement issued under his name since he took the post in August. “We believe that he should not have been sentenced in the first place and should be released immediately. We have raised our concerns about Mr. Liu’s detention repeatedly and at high levels, both in Beijing and in Washington, since he was taken into custody over a year ago,” the ambassador said in a statement last Thursday night.

Xiaobo has been among the most combative critics of China’s one-party rule, according to Reuters. His case attracted an outcry from Western government and rights activists at home and abroad. Xiaobo has been in opposition with the government since joining a hunger strike backing Tiananmen student protesters. He has been jailed for 20 months, spent three years at a labor camp in the 1990s and spent months under virtual house arrest.

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Brian Francis is a Blast intern

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