China Nobel Peace Prize winner`s wife missing
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Last Updated: Sunday, October 10, 2010, 16:00
  
Jinzhou: The wife of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo remained missing on Sunday, amid suggestions that police were taking her to her husband's prison to inform him about the prestigious award.

Liu Xiaobo's lawyers have been unable to contact Beijing-based Liu Xia after she disappeared into police custody Friday night moments after her dissident husband was awarded the award by the Nobel Committee.

"We have been unable to contact her, so we do not know where she is," lawyer Ding Xikui told a news agency.

"We are concerned about her safety. We believe that they (police) are taking her to see Liu Xiaobo, but we have no way of confirming this."

Roads to the Jinzhou prison in northeast China's Liaoning province were blocked by police, with only officials or residents allowed into a large area around the jail where Liu is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion.

Police and officials at the roadblock refused to tell journalists why they were not permitted to approach the prison and politely urged them to leave the area. Telephones at the prison went unanswered.

Liu, the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel Peace Prize, is a 54-year-old writer imprisoned since December after authoring Charter 08, a manifesto signed by thousands seeking greater rights in the communist nation.

The selection of Liu as the 2010 winner has enraged the government which called the jailed dissident a "criminal" and slammed the award as a violation of Nobel ideals and a discredit to the Peace Prize.

Leaders around the world including US President Barack Obama -- last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner -- lauded the 2010 winner and called on the Chinese government to release him immediately.

Liu Xia told a newswire on Friday she was elated by the award and that police would escort her to the prison so she could tell her husband he had won.

Since then her mobile phone has been turned off and her whereabouts unknown.

The Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an activist group organised through the Internet, said police had forcefully removed Liu Xia from Beijing as part of a campaign to suppress the news that Liu had won the award.

China's state-run media have only reported the government's angry denunciation of the prize.

Internet searches using the key words "Nobel Peace Prize" and "Liu Xiaobo" brought up no results on Chinese web portals Sina and Sohu, while similar searches on Weibo, a Twitter-like service, also drew a blank.

Access to Google in mainland China has been patchy since the US Internet giant got embroiled in a dispute with Beijing over alleged cyberhacking of dissidents' email accounts.

"As expected, Chinese officials have pulled out all the stops to prevent citizens from learning that the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo," the Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement.

"Officials ordered managers at China's four main domestic Internet portals Ten Cent, Sina, Sohu, and Net Ease to remove pages dedicated to the 2010 Nobel Prizes," it said.

"Online discussion of the Nobel Peace Prize or Liu Xiaobo continues to be actively blocked."

On Friday night, police rounded up dozens of Liu's supporters in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities who had gathered to celebrate the Nobel win, activists said.

Up to 20 were said to have been rounded up in Beijing including prominent rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong and independent film-maker He Yang.

"This is a big headache for the government," rights lawyer Teng Biao told the agency.

"They don't want people to know this matter... they don't want people gathering and celebrating over this," he said, while adding that some of those detained had since been released.

Bureau Report


First Published: Sunday, October 10, 2010, 16:00


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