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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)

She replied "Goodbye" and "Okay," and the chat ended.

Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 after the 53-year-old literary scholar was convicted of "inciting subversion to state power" through his writings and role in Charter 08, an online petition calling for more democracy and greater freedom of expression in China.

Just after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xia was placed under strict house arrest. She visited him in prison shortly after the announcement and for a while was able to send out messages to supporters via her Twitter account. Then her Internet and phone lines were cut off, and she has not been seen in public since.

In one of her last Twitter messages, on Oct. 10 after visiting the prison, she wrote, "Brothers I have returned." She added, "Seen Xiaobo, the prison told him the news about his award on the night of the 9th."

Later in October, she issued a letter that circulated online, calling on a hundred activists, professors and human rights lawyers to go to Oslo in December to accept the peace prize on her husband's behalf. But most of the people on the list were themselves detained, placed under house arrest or prohibited from leaving China in the weeks leading up to the award ceremony.

The ceremony took place, but the prize and the accompanying cash award were never handed out, since neither Liu Xiaobo nor any of his family members could attend. Instead, Liu Xiaobo's place on the stage was represented by an empty chair.

China's crackdown on dissent after the Nobel award has drawn widespread international condemnation, but the house arrest of his wife, Liu Xia, prompted particular criticism because she was never accused of any crime.

In December, after the awards ceremony in Oslo, the detentions and other restrictions placed on most of the Chinese dissidents were eased somewhat, and they were again able to travel abroad. But Liu Xia has remained under house arrest and out of sight.


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