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Wife allowed to meet jailed Chinese Nobel winner

October 14, 2010

October 11, 2010

BEIJING -- An imprisoned Chinese dissident who
won this year's Nobel Peace Prize was allowed to
meet Sunday with his wife and told her in tears
that he was dedicating the award to victims of a
1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy
protesters, his wife and a close friend said.

Liu Xia, the wife of democracy campaigner Liu
Xiaobo, said in a Twitter message that his
jailers had informed him a day earlier of his prize.

"Brothers, I have returned," Liu wrote. "Seen
Xiaobo, the prison told him the news about his award on the night of the 9th."

The Twitter message was verified by a close
friend and dissident Wang Jinbo, who wrote in
another Twitter message that Liu Xia had told him
she was unable to meet the media or friends
because of tight security. Wang declined to be interviewed.

Half a dozen men blocked the entrance to Liu's
apartment in Beijing on Sunday night, ordering
reporters out of the compound. A U.S. group that
serves as Liu Xiaobo's international counsel,
Freedom Now, deplored Liu Xia's detention in her own home.

In naming him on Friday, the Norwegian-based
Nobel committee honored Liu's more than two
decades of advocacy of human rights and peaceful
democratic change — from demonstrations for
democracy at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989
to a manifesto for political reform that he
co-authored in 2008 and which led to his latest jail term.

Wang said Liu Xiaobo told his wife during the
visit that the prize "goes first" to those who
died in the June 4, 1989, military crackdown on
protesters in Tiananmen. "Xiaobo was in tears," he wrote.

Liu Xia had sought to meet with her husband after
Friday's Nobel announcement, but authorities
refused to let her visit until Sunday.

The delay underscored the difficult predicament
the Chinese government faces over the award to a
dissident it brands a criminal.

While the announcement cheered many in the
fractured, persecuted dissident community and
brought calls from the U.S., Germany and others
for Liu's release, Beijing reacted angrily. It
warned Norway's government that relations would
suffer, even though the Nobel committee is an independent organization.

Liu, a slight, 54-year-old literary critic, is in
the second year of an 11-year prison term and
until his wife's confirmation, it was unclear if
he knew about his award. News of the prize has
been largely kept out of China's state-controlled
media. Chinese regulations allow prisoners one
monthly visit with their families, and Liu Xia
previously said police prohibited her from
talking about the Nobel nomination during her visit in September.

Liu Xia did not provide further details on the
meeting in her Twitter message. She said she had
been placed under house arrest from Friday, the
day the award was announced, and that she was no
longer able to make or receive calls on her cell
phone. Washington-based Freedom Now, a legal
rights organization, urged world leaders to call
for Liu Xia's "immediate and unconditional release."

Shortly after the Nobel announcement, Liu Xia
said she was negotiating with police to visit her
husband to deliver the news. Later that night,
family members said police escorted her to
Jinzhou, a city 300 miles (500 kilometers) from
Beijing where the prison is located.

Police put up a roadblock about a mile (1.5
kilometers) from the prison, which sits amid
run-down factories on the outskirts of the city.
Police stopped foreign reporters from passing the
roadblock. Buses with police, cars with
surveillance cameras and tactical units were stationed nearer the prison.

The roadblock was removed by Sunday afternoon and
security forces gradually left the area.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities continued to step
up pressure on activists and Liu's supporters.
The son of Beijing-based activist Wang Lihong
said police told him Wang was being detained for
eight days after taking part in a brief
demonstration Friday at a park following the news
that Liu had been awarded the peace prize.

Some of China's most prominent activist lawyers
said 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.

On Sunday, about 20 protesters in the southern
Chinese city of Hong Kong celebrated Liu's Nobel
prize by drinking champagne and eating Norwegian
salmon outside the central Chinese government's
local liaison office. They also chanted slogans
demanding the release of Liu and other dissidents.

Hong Kongers have been able to freely mark Liu's
award because the former British colony enjoys
Western-style civil liberties typically denied in the mainland.

Liu's wife has said she hopes to go to Norway to
collect the Nobel medal and its prize money of 10
million Swedish kronor (about $1.5 million) if he cannot.

* Associated Press writers Isolda Morillo and
Cara Anna in Beijing, David Wivell in Jinzhou and
Min Lee in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
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