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Wife informs jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner of award, activists say

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-10

2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo's wife has reportedly informed him on a prison visit of his prestigious win. The report is difficult to confirm as she remains unreachable, however comments on her Twitter page state that the two have met.

AFP - The wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo met her jailed husband Sunday, activists said, apparently to inform him he had won the prestigious award amid a media blackout in China.
   
The couple met on Sunday afternoon, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a faxed statement, citing Liu Xiaobo's mother-in-law.
   
Liu, the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel Peace Prize, is a 54-year-old writer imprisoned since December after authoring Charter 08, a manifesto signed by thousands seeking greater rights in the communist nation.
   
Immediately after he was announced the winner on Friday, his wife Liu Xia told AFP that police were arranging to take her to Liu's prison in northeast China, where she hoped to inform him of the award.
   
Since then her mobile phone has been switched off and her whereabouts unknown.
   
Liu Xiaobo's lawyers have also been unable to contact the Beijing-based Liu Xia since she disappeared into police custody Friday night.
   
"We have been unable to contact her, so we do not know where she is," lawyer Ding Xikui told AFP.
   
"We are concerned about her safety. We believe that they (police) are taking her to see Liu Xiaobo, but we have no way of confirming this."
   
Liu is serving an 11-year jail sentence for subversion at Jinzhou prison in the northeast province of Liaoning.
   
Roads to the prison were blocked by police Sunday, with only officials or residents allowed into a large area around the jail.
   
Police and officials at the roadblock refused to tell journalists why they were not permitted to approach the prison and politely urged them to leave the area. Telephones at the prison went unanswered.
   
Liu is one of three people to have been awarded the prize while being jailed by their own government. The other two are Myanmar's Aung Sang Suu Kyi in 1991 and German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935.
   
The selection of Liu as this year's laureate has enraged the Chinese government, which called the dissident a "criminal" and slammed the award as a violation of Nobel ideals and a discredit to the Peace Prize.
   
Leaders around the world including US President Barack Obama -- last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner -- lauded the 2010 winner and called on the Chinese government to release him immediately.
   
Wife Liu Xia told AFP on Friday she was elated by the award.
   
The Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an activist group organised through the Internet, said police had forcefully removed Liu Xia from Beijing as part of a campaign to suppress the news that Liu had won the award.
   
China's state-run media have only reported the government's angry denunciation of the prize.
   
Internet searches using the key words "Nobel Peace Prize" and "Liu Xiaobo" brought up no results on Chinese web portals Sina and Sohu, while similar searches on Weibo, a Twitter-like service, also drew a blank.
   
Access to Google in mainland China has been patchy since the US Internet giant got embroiled in a dispute with Beijing over alleged cyberhacking of dissidents' email accounts.
   
"As expected, Chinese officials have pulled out all the stops to prevent citizens from learning that the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo," the Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement.
   
"Officials ordered managers at China's four main domestic Internet portals Ten Cent, Sina, Sohu, and Net Ease to remove pages dedicated to the 2010 Nobel Prizes," it said.
   
On Friday night, police rounded up dozens of Liu's supporters in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities who had gathered to celebrate the Nobel win, activists said.
   
Up to 20 were said to have been rounded up in Beijing including prominent rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong and independent film-maker He Yang.
   
"This is a big headache for the government," rights lawyer Teng Biao told AFP.
   
"They don't want people to know this matter... they don't want people gathering and celebrating over this," he said, while adding that some of those detained had since been released.

Date created : 2010-10-10

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