Jailed Chinese Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is unlikely to be granted parole when his sentence comes up for review later this year, his lawyer said on Friday.
Liu, who was jailed in 2009 for 11 years for "incitement to subvert state power," had already been in custody for a year before his trial, so his half-term review will fall this year, his lawyer Mo Shaoping told RFA.
Under Chinese regulations governing parole reviews, inmates seeking early release on parole must have served at least half their sentence, and they must have admitted their guilt and submitted to the law, Mo said.
"Liu Xiaobo doesn't fulfill that condition, because he has never admitted to any crime," he said. "So they aren't likely to even consider granting him parole."
Last month, a group of relatives of China's highest-ranking officials began to exert behind-the-scenes pressure on the administration of President Xi Jinping to release jailed Liu Xiaobo on parole, Reuters reported.
Liu's continued imprisonment is damaging China's international image, according to the party "princelings," with their criticism suggesting that the party isn't internally united over how to deal with its critics.
But Mo said the Chinese leadership is unlikely to pay much heed.
"There is only one route he could take [to get out early], and that would be medical parole, which means that the prisoner's state of health must be unsuited to further detention," Mo said.
"In such circumstances, they would release him early so he could seek medical treatment."
The ruling Chinese Communist Party has in recent years allowed a number prominent political prisoners to seek medical treatment overseas, often in the United States, following considerable diplomatic pressure from the international community.
But they are also effectively barred from returning to China, and many refuse this option for fear of becoming sidelined or separated from loved ones once in exile.
Liu Xiaobo, 58, a literary critic and former professor, was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China" in a decision that infuriated Beijing, which says he has broken Chinese law.
He has been held since 2008 after helping to draft Charter 08, a manifesto calling for sweeping changes in China's government that was signed by thousands of supporters, and is serving an 11-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion of state power."
His wife Liu Xia has been held under house arrest at the couple's Beijing apartment since her husband's award was announced.
Liu Xia's lawyer Shang Baojun has recently said that her health has improved since she was allowed to seek treatment at a Beijing hospital, and called on the international community to "leave her to recuperate in peace."
Sources close to the family told RFA that Liu Xia's brother Liu Hui was recently released from an 11-year jail term on fraud charges, under bail conditions.
But they said he could be re-detained at any time if he or his relatives gave interviews to the media. Liu Hui's lawyers have previously said the fraud charges were a pretext for political retaliation against the family.
Jailed for visit
Meanwhile, authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have jailed Hong Kong-based activist Yeung Hung for eight months on charges of "illegally crossing a border," after they tried to visit Liu Xia in Beijing, his wife said.
Yeung, 47, was detained by police in Guangdong's Shenzhen city at the end of last year, after he crossed the border from neighboring Hong Kong after his travel permit was revoked by Chinese police, according to Liu Linna, better known by her pseudonym Liu Shasha.
"I don't accept this verdict by the court," she told RFA in an interview on Thursday. "Yeung Hung entered mainland China without his permit to visit relatives and fellow...activists, and yet the authorities said he tried to sneak in across the border."
Yeung's travel permit for Hong Kong citizens wishing to go to mainland China was revoked by the authorities last year, after he and Liu Shasha tried to visit Liu Xia in February 2013.
"Yeung Hung's permit was illegally revoked by the mainland Chinese authorities," Liu Shasha said.
Both activists, who married in August 2013, were detained and beaten by police at the time.
Reported by Hai Nan and Bi Zimo for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.