Nobel Peace boss 'pleased' by Liu support
Oslo - The Norwegian Nobel Committee head said on Thursday he was surprised at the level of international support for jailed Chinese dissident and peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo despite pressure from Beijing.
"We were not expecting a lot of support at a political level since so many countries depend on China economically and politically," chairperson Thorbjoern Jagland told the commercial TV2 News channel.
"I am pleased to see how many international leaders have so strenuously demanded Liu's release," he added.
He was speaking a day before the official Nobel Peace Prize ceremony which Liu will be unable to attend.
Beijing has bitterly opposed the award to the jailed dissident and says it has the support of "the vast majority of the international community".
A total of 19 countries - including Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, and China itself - have decided to shun the event.
The writer and former professor, who was at the forefront of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring "Charter 08", a manifesto that spread quickly on the internet calling for political reform and greater rights in China.
Liu's wife Liu Xia will not be able to come to the ceremony either, since she has been placed under house arrest since the prize was announced on October 8.
Friday will thus mark only the second time in the more than 100-year history of the prize that neither the laureate nor a representative will be able to come accept the award.
The previous occasion was when German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who was locked up in a Nazi concentration camp, could not travel to Oslo for his prize ceremony in 1936.