China frees jailed Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo

Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up photo of Liu Xiaobo during a protest to urge for release of the jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Chinese Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo has been moved from prison to hospital after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.

Mr. Liu, a human rights campaigner, was jailed in 2009 on subversion charges for calling for greater democracy.

His lawyer says he is being treated in hospital in northern Liaoning Province after being diagnosed a month ago.

His wife Liu Xia has been under house arrest since her husband won the award in 2010 but has never been charged.

Liu Xiaobo, 61, was a key leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

The Chinese authorities have never explained why they have restricted his wife’s movements.

Mr. Liu’s brother confirmed the Nobel laureate had been diagnosed with cancer on 23 May, his lawyer Mo Shaoping told the South China Morning Post. He was released days later and is now being treated in the northern city of Shenyang.

“He has no special plans. He is just receiving medical treatment for his illness,” Mo Shaoping told reporters.

The Nobel committee described Liu Xiaobo as “the foremost symbol” of the human rights struggle in China.

He never collected his prize and was represented by an empty chair. The Chinese government, which regards him as a criminal, was infuriated by the award.

Diplomatic ties with Norway were frozen. Relations were normalised only last December.

Mr. Liu has three years left to serve of an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion” after drafting Charter 08 – which called for multi-party democracy and respect for human rights in China.

Amnesty International said he should never have been jailed.

It urged China to ensure he received “adequate medical care, effective access to his family and that he and all others imprisoned solely for exercising their human rights are immediately and unconditionally released”.

 

Zainab Sa’id