Jailed Nobel Dissident's Wife Seeks Treatment in Beijing Hospital

china-liu-xia-dec-2012.jpg Liu Xia speaks to visitors at her apartment in Beijing on Dec. 28, 2012.

Chinese authorities have turned down a request by the wife of jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo for medical parole that would enable her to seek treatment for heart problems overseas, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Liu Xia, who has been held under house arrest at the couple's Beijing home since her husband's Nobel Peace Prize was announced in October 2010, requested permission to leave China to seek medical help after a hospital in Beijing refused to continue her treatment for heart disease.

But the request was denied, and she has since been allowed back to a Beijing hospital, where she is currently awaiting the results of tests, lawyer Shang Baojun told RFA on Thursday.

"I can't go into the details, but it was ... Sunday that she was admitted for treatment," he said.

"She needs a full range of tests, and we won't know more about her health status until the results come back," Shang said.

He declined to give details of the hospital at which Liu Xia is receiving treatment, for fear of affecting her recovery.

"I can't say more, but the gist of it was that they agreed to Liu Xia receiving treatment [in Beijing]," Shang added. "That's all I know."

No visitors

Beijing film professor Hao Jian, a close friend of Liu Xia, said he had spoken with her by phone last week, and that her mood seemed to have improved since Chinese New Year.

But he said that while police hadn't tried to dictate where she went for treatment, Liu Xia wasn't being allowed visitors.

"She's not free," Hao said. "If she was free, I would definitely go and see her."

"The important thing now is for her to get her health checked out."

Hao said Liu had been free to choose her own hospital.

"The police didn't interfere with Liu Xia's choice of where to seek medical treatment," he said.

Treatment for depression

Beijing rights lawyer Mo Shaoping, who also acts for the Lius, said on Thursday that Liu Xia is also seeking treatment for depression, however.

"It's not just her heart disease; there is also her depression and various other problems that need to be checked out," Mo said.

"The police have forbidden her relatives from revealing which hospital Liu Xia is staying at, or any details of her medical status," he said.

Meanwhile, Guangzhou-based writer Ye Du, another friend of the couple, said Liu Xia had previously been told she had coronary heart disease.

"Her health is unlikely to improve," he said. "I really hope that the government will end her house arrest, so she can be free to spend time with her family."

Liu Xiaobo, 58, a literary critic and former professor, was awarded the 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."

Liu Xia, 54, has suffered deteriorating mental health following years of solitary house arrest.

Liu Xia herself has called on the government to allow her to visit a doctor of her choice and to allow her to get a job to support herself financially.

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

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