Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo 'leaves China'

Lester Mason
July 10, 2018

After eight years of de facto house arrest, the widow of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died last year in Chinese police custody boarded on Tuesday her flight to freedom.

But now, Liu Xia is reported to have been allowed to leave China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying confirmed Liu Xia's departure on Tuesday, telling a press briefing that the widow left for Germany of her own accord to receive treatment.

An accomplished poet and writer, Liu Xia was placed under house arrest by the Chinese authorities in 2010, after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize but was unable to collect it due to his detention on political grounds.

China sentenced Liu Xiaobo in December 2009 to 11 years' imprisonment on charges of inciting subversion of state power after he helped write a manifesto calling for political and economic liberalisation.

Liu faced daily restrictions on movement and surveillance even after her husband's death, although Chinese authorities maintained she was free.

The German embassy had offered in April to help Liu Xia travel to Germany but the move did not take place.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets regularly with dissidents during visits to China and has raised Liu Xia's case with Chinese officials, including during a visit in May, people familiar with the matter said.

Western diplomats and rights groups had earlier hoped to be able to get Liu Hui out of China as well. The country has been raising human rights issues and the situation of Liu Xia on multiple occasions with China, a major trade partner and investor.

No bags or boxes appeared to have been packed in the fifth-floor duplex apartment and she declined to give a formal interview, citing fears for her younger brother.

But China Human Rights Defenders researcher Frances Eve said Liu's release was an "easy win" for China.

Another friend, Ye Du, told the Post that Liu Xia's elder brother, Liu Tong, told him over the telephone that he was very happy that his sister had left China. "I hope that being in a free country will allow Liu Xia to heal her long-standing traumas and wounds".

Liu Xia poses with a photo of her and her husband during an interview at her home in Beijing on December 6, 2012.

In a letter published previous year, Liu Xia wrote to a friend that she was "going mad" in her isolation, according to the AFP news agency. Liu Hui was previously sentenced to 11 years for so-called fraud, and used to pressure Liu Xia to stop speaking out about Liu Xiaobo, he was released on medical parole, but his sentence could be carried out at any time... Her friends say her inability to leave her home has taken a toll on her mental health, especially following her husband's death.

The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died of tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while jailed for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

It's also a big win for Germany, one of the few countries allowed to send a doctor to China past year to examine Liu Xiaobo.

"Li also promised [Merkel] that Liu will be released for medical treatment in a short time", the person said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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