A prominent Chinese rights activist who escaped the country to be with her husband following a travel ban imposed on her by Chinese police has arrived in Cambodia and is hoping to apply for political asylum in a third country.
Liu Linna, better known by her nickname Liu Shasha, was discovered by Vietnamese police at her hotel after crossing the border from the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi last November to spend time in Vietnam with her Hong Kong-based husband, who is unable to travel to China.
Liu, a veteran rights activist who has previously been jailed and beaten by the Chinese authorities in connection with her political activism, later crossed the border into Cambodia with husband Yeung Hung.
Liu, who hopes to apply for political asylum in a third country, was refused a visa at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, she told RFA.
"They took my Chinese passport without opening it ... and they said they couldn't issue a visa to Chinese passport holders," Liu said.
"I haven't thought about what to do next, as I had planned to go to the U.N. refugee camp in Thailand," she said. "I have been subjected to persecution back in China over many years."
"I really don't know what fate would await me if I went back."
"I think that if I went back to China ... I would suffer retaliation," Liu said. "I am hoping to go the U.S. and to apply for political asylum."
"Financially, things are pretty tight, and I'm not even sure I have enough for a plane ticket," said Liu.
In an earlier interview at the weekend, Liu said she is now currently legally in Cambodia, but that her visa runs out on Feb. 10.
Difficulties in Cambodia
Liu's husband Yeung Hung said the couple is also fast running out of money, and getting into problems with Cambodian bureaucracy.
"Things are very different here in Cambodia, where it's very difficult just to go and withdraw money from a bank," Yeung said.
"We can't seem to get anything done, and we feel pretty lost."
According to Yeung, the couple had been crossing borders illegally to meet since his "home travel permit" enabling Hong Kong citizens to visit mainland China was confiscated by Chinese authorities.
Hong Kong, China's Special Administrative Region, is a former British colony and still maintains an immigration border with the mainland.
Yeung was detained by police in Guangdong's border city of Shenzhen in December 2013, as he tried to cross from neighboring Hong Kong to meet Liu after his travel permit was revoked by Chinese police.
Guangdong authorities jailed him for eight months on charges of "illegally crossing a border."
"I have thought of a number of places we might go," Yeung said told RFA on Saturday. "The U.S. is only one of them."
Yeung, who captained a converted Hong Kong fishing vessel that carried nationalist activists to the disputed Diaoyu islands, where they were detained and deported by Japan in October 2012, said the couple appears to have been permanently prevented from meeting by the authorities.
Liu and Yeung had earlier feared she would be sent back to China after her initial discovery by the Vietnamese authorities, but said that Vietnamese police appeared to "change their attitude," taking the couple instead to a border town in neighboring Cambodia last week, Liu told RFA.
"To begin with, they seemed to think that [my lack of entry stamp] was a major problem," Liu said. "Initially seven or eight police officers met with us in the conference room."
"But the next day, they called us for interviews, and their attitude seemed to have changed," Liu said. "They said it wasn't too serious, and pointed us in the direction of Cambodia."
Visiting Liu Xia
Yeung's travel permit for Hong Kong citizens wishing to go to mainland China was revoked by the authorities in 2013, after he and Liu Shasha tried to visit Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, currently under house arrest in Beijing.
Accompanied by a Hong Kong camera crew, the pair got as far as the residential compound in a Beijing suburb where Liu Xia has been held under police guard since October 2010, holding a placard with the words "Liu Xia, everyone is behind you!" and shouting slogans through a megaphone.
The two activists were quickly detained, questioned for several hours, and then released. They married in August 2013.
Liu Xiaobo, 60, 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.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.