Liu Xiaobo’s widow is free, claim Chinese authorities

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Beijing, July 15 (IANS) Chinese authorities on Saturday said that Liu Xia, the widow of late Nobel Peace laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo, is free, although her close friends said she is under surveillance and that they have been unable to contact her.

“The Chinese government will protect her (Liu Xia’s) legitimate rights in accordance with the law,” Shenyang Information Office spokesperson Zhang Qingyang said at a press conference.

Asked if Liu Xia could travel overseas as she previously requested, Zhang said she was free but as she was “in great sorrow” over the death of her husband, the relevant authorities respected her wish not to be disturbed, Efe news quoted Zhang as saying.

Liu Xiaobo, who had been serving an 11-year prison term for “subversion”, died of liver cancer earlier this week. Zhang said that the dissident was cremated in a “private” ceremony under tight security.

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While the Communist regime claimed the family decided to cremate Liu Xiaobo and hold a simple funeral for him, family friends rejected this and claimed his widow is under tight surveillance.

Many close friends of Liu Xia warned she is in deteriorating health, having spent almost seven years under house arrest despite not being charged with any crime.

The late dissident’s lawyer Jared Genser said Liu Xia had been held “incommunicado” since her husband’s death, BBC reported.

“The world needs to mobilise to rescue her – and fast,” he wrote in a statement. On Friday, the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize said it was “deeply worried” about her and urged China to free her.

Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his non-violent struggle for human rights in China.

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