A Chinese-born Canadian model says she was barred from entering China to participate in the Miss World pageant.
Anastasia Lin, an outspoken critic of China’s religious policy, said on Friday that she was unable to board her connecting flight from Hong Kong after a Chinese official told her by telephone that she would not be granted a visa on arrival.
"If they start to censor beauty pageants - how pathetic is that?'' Lin told The Associated Press in Hong Kong.
In a pre-departure statement, Lin said denying her entry would mean China was trying to prevent her from speaking out about human rights issues.
Lin, who moved to Canada when she was 13, is an outspoken critic of Chinese religious policy and a follower of the Falun Gong meditation group. Dubbed a cult, Falun Gong was outlawed by China's ruling Communist Party in 1999.
Lin said that after she won the Canadian beauty title Chinese security agents visited her father - who still lives in China - in an apparent attempt to intimidate her into silence.
| Crackdown on spreading online 'rumours'
Meanwhile, three Chinese rights activists were sentenced to jail by a court on Friday in Guangzhou in southern China.
Guo Feixiong was jailed for six years, while fellow activists Liu Yuandong, 37, and Sun Desheng, 32, were sentenced to three years and two-and-a-half years in prison, respectively.
They were found guilty of "gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place".
Amnesty International has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the three activists.
"It's a dark day when people advocating press freedom and democracy are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment and sentenced to lengthy prison terms after sham trials," Amnesty's Roseann Rife said.
Guo, 48, had previously been jailed for nearly five years for his activism.
"He wasn't guilty of anything at all. This sentence is unacceptable and unfair," Guo's lawyer Zhang Lei told Reuters.
Under fire from free-speech advocates, a Beijing court on Thursday gave medical parole to a 71-year-old journalist jailed for "leaking" an official document warning against liberal political ideas.
Beijing's high court ruled that veteran journalist Gao Yu would receive treatment outside prison for a "serious illness", her lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told the AFP news agency.
|Beijing's high court ruled on Thursday that veteran journalist Gao Yu would receive treatment outside prison [EPA]
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies