Authorities in the Chinese capital began the trial on Tuesday of a relative of jailed Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, whose wife Liu Xia appeared in public for the first time following years of house arrest to attend the court.
Liu Xia's brother Liu Hui stood trial at the Huairou District People's Court in a northern suburb of Beijing on charges of fraud linked to a property transaction.
Liu Xia, 54, was pictured in a black car outside the court building, and told reporters waiting there, "I'm not free."
She later said that the charges against Liu Hui were politically motivated.
"That's for sure," an emotional and defiant Liu Xia told Hong Kong media. "They want to break one of my legs, and then break the other one. But I am only happy when I am standing up straight by myself."
She said her brother had been a constant source of emotional support to her, and that she was still able to visit Liu Xiaobo in prison once a month. "He's OK," she added.
Liu Hui's lawyer Mo Shaoping said he had pleaded not guilty during the four-hour hearing, and that court officials had allowed him to speak without interruption.
"From a legal point of view, we believe that Liu Hui is innocent," Mo said. "We believe that the evidence held by the public prosecution is insufficient to convict for fraud, or to prove that he committed any crime," he said.
Mo, who was eventually allowed to represent Liu Hui after an initial ban on the prominent rights attorney was lifted, said the authorities had acted illegally.
"This sort of decree, once you get it out into the sunlight, is clearly illegal," he said.
Last month, police detained a group of activists and beat reporters who tried to visit Liu Xia under house arrest at the Beijing residential compound where she has been held under police guard since October 2010, when the Nobel committee first announced her husband's award.
Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "subversion" after he co-authored Charter 08, a petition calling for sweeping political change in China.
Mo told Agence France-Presse that Liu Xia was still under tight surveillance by state security police, who would likely escort her home later in the day.
Liu Hui was detained on Jan. 31 and accused of cheating a business associate out of more than 3 million yuan (U.S. $483,000).
Mo said at the time that he suspected Liu Hui's detention was motivated by anger on the part of the authorities, and was likely linked to a brief visit to the Lius' Beijing apartment late last year by rights activists Hu Jia and Xu Youyu.
Hu said in an interview on Tuesday that Liu Xia believed the authorities were retaliating after a number of attempts to visit her since last October, including an interview she gave to the Associated Press.
"Today, I was disappointed not to see Liu Xia ... I wanted to tell her that [I and my wife Zeng Jinyan] love her, and we will continue to fight for her complete freedom."
Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Fung Yat-yiu for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.