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China releases Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

June 26, 2017

After serving eight years in prison, Chinese authorities have freed the Nobel Prize-winning Liu Xiaobo. The human rights defender and pro-democracy activist was jailed in 2008 for "inciting subversion of state power."

A protester holds a sign that reads: "Free Liu Xiaobo"
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Favre

Chinese authorities have released Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo under medical parole after he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in May, his lawyer said in a statement on Monday.

"He's now being treated at a hospital in Shenyang [in northeast Liaoning province]. He has no special plans. He is just receiving medical treatment for his illness," Liu's lawyer Mo Shaoping told the AFP news agency.

In 2008, police arrested Liu and his wife for attempting to collect signatures for Charter 08, a manifesto signed by prominent Chinese intellectuals and human rights activists that demanded democratic reforms. He was later sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power."

Read more: Labor rights movements gaining momentum in China

'Non-violent struggle'

A year after his sentencing, the Norway-based Nobel committee awarded Liu with the Nobel Peace Prize for "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China."

"The campaign to establish universal human rights also in China is being waged by many Chinese, both in China itself and abroad. Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China," the Nobel Committee said in a statement.

Liu Xiaobo
Liu Xiaobo's activism dates back to the Tianenmen Square protests of 1989Image: picture-alliance/dpa/L. Xia

The award prompted Beijing to summon the Norwegian ambassador and submit a formal complaint against the committee's decision, saying that choosing Liu as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize "runs completely counter to the principle of the award and is also a desecration of the Peace Prize."

Since 1989

Liu's pro-democracy activism dates back as far as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Liu joined the protests and initiated a hunger strike with three other activists.

He is also known for having negotiated the safe exit of thousands of student protesters on June 3, when the military launched a deadly crackdown to quell the movement.

'Tank Man' photo

ls/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)