China Nobel laureate denied prison visits
Beijing - Chinese authorities are refusing to allow the family of jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo to visit him during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, a rights group said on Tuesday.
Authorities in northeast China's Liaoning province told Liu Xiaoguang, Liu's elder brother, no visits would be allowed during the Lunar New Year, China's most important holiday, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.
Besides a prison visit by his wife Liu Xia immediately after the prize was announced in October, no other family member has been allowed to see the jailed writer since then, according to the family.
Liu Xia has also been placed under house arrest in Beijing and has not been seen in public since the award was announced.
Under Chinese law, prison inmates are allowed a monthly visit with relatives. The Lunar New Year in China, which starts on Thursday, sees a massive internal migration as families reunite for the holiday.
Liu, a writer and one-time professor, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Christmas Day in 2009 on subversion charges after co-authoring "Charter 08", a bold petition calling for political reform in communist-ruled China.
Barack Obama's plea
He was awarded the Nobel prize in absentia in the Norwegian capital Oslo in December, sparking fury in Beijing.
A Liu family member was unable to confirm the rights group's report, saying no firm news had been received, and declining further comment.
Attempts to reach other family members on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Last month, US President Barack Obama raised Liu's plight directly with Chinese President Hu Jintao during Hu's state visit to Washington, US officials said.
Obama, a fellow Nobel laureate, has repeatedly called on China to free Liu, calling him an "eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and non-violent means".
According to the Hong Kong rights group, Liu Xia was allowed to leave her home during the Hu visit to Washington to dine with her elderly parents but has been again placed under strict police surveillance since.