China Nobel winner's wife still under house arrest

AP News
Posted: Oct 19, 2010 6:21 AM
China Nobel winner's wife still under house arrest

The wife of imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo remained under house arrest for a 12th day and will likely stay that way until after the Dec. 10 awards ceremony in Norway, her brother said Tuesday.

Since her husband won the award on Oct. 8, Liu Xia has been permitted to leave her apartment only for brief trips under police escort and has been forbidden visitors. Her phones have been cut off and she has had only intermittent communication with the outside.

Liu Xia's brother, Liu Tong, said she was still unable to freely move about and doubted whether she would be able to collect the award for her husband as she had hoped to do, according to a statement issued by Hong Kong's Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

The center, a clearinghouse for human rights-related information, has released previous statements for the family.

Tuesday's statement quoted Liu Xiaobo's brother as saying officials at the prison in the northern city of Jinzhou where Liu is being held had denied him permission to visit. Liu Xiaoguang said that was a violation of prison laws and regulations allowing each direct family member a monthly visit, although China's prison administration law is vague on the issue.

Calls to the prison rang unanswered Tuesday.

Liu, a longtime pro-democracy activist, is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion imposed in December after he co-authored a bold appeal known as Charter 08 calling for reforms to the country's single-party communist political system.

Others who signed the document or sought to commemorate Liu's Nobel win have also been targeted by the security services over recent days with threats, detention, and harassment. Dissident author Yu Jie on Tuesday sent a text message saying police are not letting him leave his home, telling him that if he wants to buy anything, he should give them a list and they'll do the shopping.

Chinese authorities have refused to say which law gives them the right to hold Liu Xia under house arrest and prevent her from meeting with journalists.

At a briefing Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu refused to answer a question on that topic directly, saying only that "citizens must exercise their rights within the framework of law."

Chinese officials have responded furiously to the Nobel committee's awarding of the prize to Liu, apparently fearful of its galvanizing effect on the country's embattled dissident community and damage to the country's image.

Beijing has canceled meetings with members of the Norwegian government and demanded an apology from the committee, some of whose members are appointed by Oslo but which operates independently.

Liu, a soft-spoken 54-year-old literary critic, also went to prison for taking part in the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square and for advocating democratic reforms in the early 1990s.