Wife meets Nobel prize winner

2010-10-10 13:39

Jinzhou -The wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo met her jailed husband on 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 cellphone 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 on 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 prison sentence for subversion at Jinzhou prison in the northeast province of Liaoning.

Roads to the prison were blocked by police on 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.

Angry denunciation

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.