Wife of detained Chinese Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo says she, family are 'hostages'

Liu Xia has not been seen in public since October.
Liu Xia has not been seen in public since October. (Associated Press)
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 19, 2011; 8:22 PM

BEIJING - Liu Xia, wife of the imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, was able to briefly break her government-imposed silence last week and tell a friend in an Internet chat that she was "miserable," was being held at home against her will and had seen her husband just once since his Nobel award was announced in October, according to the friend's transcript of the conversation.

"I'm crazy," Liu Xia wrote in her first known communication since she disappeared from public view more than four months ago.

The chat took place after Liu Xia succeeded in getting an Internet connection for about five minutes late Thursday evening, while Chinese were celebrating the Lantern Festival, the last day of the Lunar New Year celebrations. Her friend happened to be online at the time.

The transcript of the brief exchanges showed the exact period that Liu Xia was online and sent her messages, as well as her e-mail address. The friend, through an intermediary, provided The Washington Post with a copy, hoping to make her words public and let the world know of her condition.

The Post could not independently verify the authenticity of the transcript. But another friend of Liu Xiaobo's, writer and activist Mo Zhixu, confirmed that he also saw Liu Xia online at the same time, although he was not able to chat with her.

"I don't know how I managed to get online," Liu Xia wrote to the friend in her post. "Don't go online. Otherwise my whole family is in danger."

The friend asked, "Are you at home?"

"Yes," Liu Xia responded, writing in Pinyin, the Chinese transliteration system. She said she was using an old computer and apparently could not type Chinese characters.

"Can't go out. My whole family are hostages," Liu Xia said. Later she wrote, "I only saw him once," apparently referring to her husband, Liu Xiaobo.

"So miserable," she wrote. "Don't talk."

"I'm crying," she added. "Nobody can help me."

The friend said he was worried about causing her more trouble but offered words of support, writing: "Please log out first. We miss you and support you. We will wait for you outside."

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