Wife to meet Nobel winner Liu

2010-10-09 14:43

Jinzhou - The wife of the world's newest Nobel Peace Prize winner is expected to visit him in prison on Sunday and finally give him the news of his award, a family member said on Saturday night.

Police kept reporters away from the prison where democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, and his the cellphone of his wife, Liu Xia, was cut off. The authoritarian government continued to censor reports about Liu's award.

Two years into an 11-year jail term at the prison 500km from Beijing, the slight, 54-year-old literary critic was not expected to find out about the award until the meeting with his wife.

Chinese authorities, who called Liu a criminal shortly after his award on  Friday and said his winning "desecrates the prize", sank on Saturday into official silence. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao didn't answer a question about the prize that was submitted on Friday for a joint news conference in Turkey with that country's premier.

Only the state-run Global Times newspaper spoke out on Saturday. An editorial in its Chinese-language edition called the award "an arrogant showcase of Western ideology" and said it disrespected the Chinese people.

Activists harrassed

Some of China's most prominent activist lawyers said on Saturday they were being harassed by police as they took advantage of the peace prize to try to reconcile differences among themselves. Lawyers Pu Zhiqiang, Jiang Tianyong and others said they were not allowed to leave their homes.

"The government doesn't know how to react to the news of Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel prize," Pu said. "They are nervous, fearful and are acting chaotically."

There was still no word on Saturday from Liu Xia, who had been in police custody.

"She's disappeared. We're all worried about them," Liu's lawyer, Shang Baojun, told The Associated Press.

Liu's wife's freedom of movement had been shrinking since the eve of the Nobel announcement, when she said police tried to get her out of Beijing, offering her a prison visit with Liu.

She instead planned to hold a news conference with reporters on Friday night, but police would not let her leave her apartment. She was negotiating terms to visit Liu on Saturday and tell him the news.