Jailed Chinese Nobel Winner Liu Xiaobo to Appeal Sentence

2013-11-18
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A portrait of Liu Xiaobo hangs near the empty chair placed in his honor during the ceremony in Oslo, Norway in which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia on Dec. 10, 2010.
AFP

Jailed Chinese Nobel peace laureate and veteran dissident Liu Xiaobo is to appeal against his conviction and 11-year jail term for "incitement to subvert state power," his lawyer said on Monday.

Liu, who has been held for nearly five years over his writing calling for political reform in China, approved the appeal bid in person during one of the regular visits from his wife Liu Xia, the dissident's lawyer Mo Shaoping told RFA.

"Liu Xiaobo has never accepted the verdict and sentence passed on him," Mo said.

"Liu Xia told us that he had agreed [to the appeal] during her most recent visit to Liu Xiaobo [in jail]," he said.

"We hope to have a meeting with Liu Xiaobo as provided for under Chinese law, and to begin communicating with him and getting his opinion on the appeal materials we are preparing."

He said the authorities in Jinzhou Prison in northeast China's Liaoning province, where Liu is serving the prison sentence handed down in 2009, had so far refused permission for Liu to receive visits from his legal team.

"Lawyer Shang Baojun went all the way up to Jinzhou Prison, and the prison authorities accepted his application for a visit, but they said they would have to send it higher up for approval, and we still haven't heard anything back from them," Mo said.

Liu Xiaobo, 57, a literary critic and former professor, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China" in a decision that infuriated Beijing.

Liu Xia 'near mental collapse'

Liu Xia remains incommunicado and under strict house arrest at the couple's home in Beijing, where she has been held since her husband's Nobel was announced.

Beijing-based activist Hu Jia, a close friend of the couple, said she was in poor physical and mental health after her long house arrest.

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Liu Xia (r) and rights lawyer Mo Shaoping (l) arrive at court for her brother's trial in Beijing, April 23, 2013. Photo credit: AFP.
"She is nearly in a state of mental collapse," he said. "She's not even allowed to go out to take a walk."

"She is unable to get in contact with the outside world, and she is suffering from severe depression," he said.

"The authorities listen into everything she talks to Liu Xiaobo about," Hu said, adding that she could not tell her husband about the sentencing of her brother Liu Hui, who was convicted of "fraud" this year and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Liu Xia, 54, and other relatives have repeatedly said the charges are linked to her own and Liu Xiaobo's political activism, and have no connection to any real crime.

Liu Hui, 43, was sentenced to 11 year's imprisonment, two years' deprivation of political rights, and a 10,000 yuan (U.S.$1,630) fine in connection with a property dispute by the Huairou District People's Court, in a northern suburb of Beijing, on June 10.

Illegal detention

Chinese dissidents, whether in jail or in exile overseas, frequently report official harassment and retaliatory action against their relatives.

Hu said Liu Xia's legal team was preparing to sue the Beijing police department for keeping her under illegal detention for three years.

"She has only held off doing it this long because reasons to do with her family," Hu said.

Nobel laureate

Liu Xiaobo was detained in December 2008 after he helped draft Charter 08, a manifesto calling for sweeping changes in China's government that was signed by thousands of netizens.

A year later, he was sentenced to 11 years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power” in the charter and in six other articles published online.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia at a ceremony in Oslo in which he was represented by an empty chair.

Beijing was angered by the award, which was decided by a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament, freezing top-level diplomatic contact between the two nations, causing Norwegian salmon exports to the country to plunge amid restrictions.

China has since told Norway it mustn't cross "red lines" if it wishes to mend fences with Beijing.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.