Tue, Jan 06, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Detained writer allowed meeting with wife

‘RESIDENTIAL SURVEILLANCE’ In his writings, most only published on the Internet, Liu Xiaobo has called for civil rights, making him subject to routine police harassment


Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, left, and his wife Liu Xia pose for a photograph in Beijing on Oct. 22, 2002. The prominent Chinese dissident, who signed a charter calling for democratic reforms, is being held in a form of detention that typically precedes a trial, human rights activists said on Friday. Liu was taken away by police on Dec. 8 and his location has remained confidential as prominent international authors and academics call for his release.


A Chinese writer detained for almost one month has been allowed a meeting with his wife, his lawyer said yesterday, adding that police said they have not decided how to proceed with his case.

Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) was taken away by police on Dec. 8, a day before the publication of a document he co-authored calling for stronger civil rights and an end to Communist Party political dominance.

His lawyer, Mo Shaoping (莫少平), said police drove Liu’s wife, Liu Xia (劉霞), to the New Year’s Day meeting at a secret location in the northeastern suburbs of Beijing, the first such contact since Liu’s detention.

Mo said police were holding Liu under a form of house arrest called “residential surveillance,” but they had violated legal procedure by removing him from his home.

“If the person under surveillance has a place to live in town at all, then the surveillance should be conducted at that place, not somewhere else in town,” Mo said yesterday.

Mo said Liu Xia told him that her husband appeared to be in good health but that police said they had still not decided how to proceed in his case. Chinese law permits the imposition of residential surveillance for up to six months, although that period can be renewed.

Liu Xia’s phone rang unanswered yesterday.

Liu Xiaobo, 53, is a former university professor who spent 20 months in jail for joining the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square.

In his writings, most only published on the Internet, Liu has strongly called for civil rights and political reform, making him subject to routine harassment by the authorities.

He was among more than 300 lawyers, writers, academics and artists who signed “Charter 08” last month calling for a new constitution guaranteeing human rights, election of public officials, freedom of religion and expression, and an end to the party’s hold over the military, courts and government.

The charter also calls for the abolition of the criminal code that allows people to be imprisoned for “incitement to subvert state power.”

Other people who signed the statement have been summoned or tailed by police.

Late last month, more than 150 writers and rights activists, including Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer and Wole Soyinka, sent an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) urging Liu’s release.

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