Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Liu Xia, wife of late dissident Liu Xiaobo, leaves China for Germany

Albert Ho Albert Ho
Steven Clarke | 11 July, 2018, 01:59

Speaking to AFP news agency before her departure, close friend Ye Du said Liu was suffering from "very severe" depression, adding she would "sometimes faint" and was taking medicine to sleep.

The Chinese-language report said Liu Xia was aboard a Finnair flight that departed from Beijing at 11 a.m. (0300 GMT).

Sen. Ted Cruz, (R., Texas), who has advocated for the release of Liu Xia and her late husband, hailed her release, saying it was long overdue.

Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer in July 2017 in Chinese custody, having been jailed in 2009 for inciting subversion.

Liu Xia had been under house arrest since her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and Beijing has been under pressure to allow her to leave China.

"We call on the Chinese Government to permit Liu Xia's brother, Liu Hui, to travel freely and to release all other political prisoners".

Liu Xiaobo's prison sentence turned out to be for life.

In a letter published past year, Liu Xia wrote to a friend that she was "going mad" in her isolation, according to the AFP news agency.

She departed Beijing overnight and is traveling to Berlin, according to her attorney, Jared Genser, who credited President Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, "and so many others in the worldwide community who helped make today possible".

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Merkel has spoken out frequently on Chinese human rights abuses and is believed to have pushed for Liu's release during her May visit to Beijing, where she met the wives of detained human rights lawyers.

Liu Hui is in China.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a news conference that Liu Xia had gone to Germany to seek medical treatment in accordance with her wishes. In a phone recording posted on the internet in May, Liu Xia was heard sobbing without talking for much of the time, apparently over her frustration with the processing of her application to leave China.

China had criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release as interference in its domestic affairs and insisted that Liu Xia was free. "It would be easier to die than to live".

Cruz previously authored a resolution honoring the life and work of Liu Xiaobo and in July of previous year, as well as the fall of 2015, delivered speeches calling attention to Liu's plight. His wife was put under de facto house arrest nearly immediately after he was awarded his Nobel in 2010. She was depicted attending Liu's closely staged funeral dressed in black and wearing dark sunglasses as she clutched a photograph of her husband.

Despite a diagnosis of late stage liver cancer and calls from the worldwide community to release him for urgent medical treatment, Liu Xiaobo died at the age of 61 while still imprisoned on July 13, 2017.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is in Germany this week.

"I think the government wanted to try and save face, and make it seem as though it is a country ruled according to law when everything about her case has shown demonstrably that it is not", Eve said. "The human rights situation in China has been deteriorating in recent years, so this stands out as something special".

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