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PEN urges immediate release of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo from prison and his wife Liu Xia from house arrest on International Human Rights Day

Monday 10 December 2012 - 12:00am

London, 10 December 2012 – PEN International urges the Chinese government to mark this year’s International Human Rights Day by immediately releasing poet and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Liu Xiaobo has been imprisoned in China since his arrest in 2008, serving an 11 year prison sentence. At the time of his arrest, he was calling for peaceful political reform, greater human rights and multi-party democracy in China.

“Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years, solely for what he had written—seven sentences from five articles posted online, two sentences from Charter 08,” said Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair, Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International. “These are not crimes. Liu Xia has never been charged with anything, and yet she too is treated like a criminal. These human rights violations directly contravene international treaties and covenants that China has signed.”

In October 2010 Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his continued, non-violent struggle for freedom of expression and human rights. In prison and unable to collect the prize, he was represented by an Empty Chair at the award ceremony in Oslo on 10 December 2010.

His wife, Liu Xia, was placed under strict house arrest in the days following the announcement. More than two years later, she remains held incommunicado without charge at her home in Beijing. On 6 December 2012 Associated Press (AP) journalists managed to penetrate her compound and speak to her. In the interview she described her house arrest as more "absurd and unbelievable" than a Kafka novel. The Chinese authorities have consistently denied her detention.

PEN International is calling on PEN Centres around the world to stage public events over the coming months to express solidarity with Liu Xiaobo and all writers currently detained in the P.R.China solely for peacefully expressing their views.

Secretary General of German PEN Herbert Wiesner, and Tienchi Martin-Liao President of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre wrote a joint letter to Carl XVI Gustaf King of Sweden and Harald V King of Norway calling them to stand up for the release of Liu Xiaobo.

PEN International President John Ralston Saul, Luis Enrique Eguren, Brigitte Dufour, Mary Lawlor, Gerald Staberock and Bjørn Engesland wrote a joint letter to the presidents of the European Council, European Commission and the European Parliament calling them to raise the case of Lui Xiaobo at the Nobel Prize Ceremony due to take place later today.

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Notes to editors:
PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now comprises 144 Centres spanning more than 100 countries. Our programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers for global solidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organization and holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.

For an interview please contact Marian Botsford Fraser, mobile: +416-938-4204, email:

For more information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: | @pen_int