Liu Xiaobo,

STATUS: In Prison

Liu Xiaobo, a rewnowned literary critic, writer, political activist, and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is currently serving an 11 year prison sentence for "inciting subversion of state power" for penning seven sentences. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since the announcement that he would win the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010.

Liu Xiaobo was formally moved to Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning, his home province, on May 24, 2010. He reportedly now has access to books published in China and is permitted rare visits from his wife.

Case History

Liu Xiaobo is a renowned literary critic, writer, and political activist based in Beijing. He served as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007 and now serves as an honorary president. He was a professor at Beijing Normal University and was a visiting scholar at several universities outside of China, including the University of Oslo, the University of Hawaii, and Columbia University in New York City.

In the spring of 1989, Liu Xiaobo left his post at Columbia University and returned to Beijing to play a crucial role in the spreading pro-democracy movement, staging a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in support of the students and leading calls for a truly broad-based, sustainable democratic movement. He was instrumental in preventing further bloodshed in the Square by supporting and advancing a call for non-violence on the part of the students. He spent two years in prison for his role and another three years of “reeducation through labor” in 1996 for publicly questioning the role of the single-party system and calling for dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

In 2004, Liu Xiaobo's phone lines and Internet connection were cut after the release of his essay criticizing the use of “subversion” charges to silence journalists and activists, and he has since been the target of regular police surveillance and harassment.

On December 8, 2008, before the formal release of Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reform, greater human rights, and an end to one-party rule in China, police arrived at the Beijing homes of Liu  Xiaobo and fellow activist Zhang Zuhua. At 11:00 p.m. that night, they took both men away and searched their homes, confiscating computers and other materials. Liu's arrest occurred during a period of several sensitive anniversaries, including the 100-year anniversary of the promulgation of China’s first constitution, the 60-year anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 30-year anniversary of Beijing’s “Democracy Wall” movement. While Zhang Zuhua was released the following morning, Liu Xiaobo remained in detention. He was held incommunicado until December 31, when he was finally permitted a visit from his wife. He did not have access to a lawyer, and he was denied writing materials while detained at an undisclosed location in Beijing. He was held at the No. 1 Detention Center of Beijing City, where he has finally had access to his lawyers, from the date of his formal arrest on June 23, 2009 until May 24, 2010, when he was transferred to Jinzhou Prison. 

After Liu Xiaobo’s arrest, nearly all of the 300 original signatories of Charter 08 were interrogated in a push to gather evidence against him and crack down on free expression in China. Liu Xiaobo was tried by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on December 23, 2009, and pleaded not guilty to the charge of "inciting subversion of state power" for co-authoring Charter 08. The trial lasted less than three hours, and the defense was not permitted to present evidence. Two days later, on December 25, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights. The Beijing High Court rejected his appeal on February 11, 2010.  

Liu Xiaobo is the winner of the 2009 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. He was poignantly represented by an empty chair at the Nobel ceremony in Oslo. When told of the announcement after October 8, he wept and told his wife, Liu Xia, that it was dedicated to the martyrs of Tiananmen. Liu Xia has been under house arrest since the award announcement and is incommunicado.


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 25/June/2014-China: What's in a Law?

 25/December/2013-Flood the Gates: Write to Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo

 06/December/2013-On the Fifth Anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's Arrest, Grave Concerns for Liu Xia

 03/December/2013-Liu Xia: To Feel a Life in This Prison

 02/December/2013-Vice President Biden: Don't Forget Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia

 14/June/2013-Liu Xia Pens Open Letter to Xi Jinping

Press Release 29/March/2013-PEN Protests Increased Pressure on Liu Xia

 07/December/2012-On the Anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s Arrest

Press Release 06/December/2012-Liu Xia Speaks

 18/October/2012-China's Nobels

 14/June/2012-Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong

 14/February/2012-The Silent Strength of Liu Xia

Press Release 09/December/2011-PEN to Liu Xiaobo: You Are Not Forgotten

 08/December/2011-Liu Xiaobo's Nobel: One Year Later

 06/December/2011-Testimony of Marian Botsford Fraser, PEN International

Press Release 05/August/2011-PEN, Citing U.N. Ruling, Urges China to Release Liu Xiaobo Immediately

 28/July/2011-Success and Silence in Today's China

Press Release 23/July/2011-ICPC Celebrates Tenth Anniversary in Shadow of Escalating Repression

Press Release 25/February/2011-Chinese Writers React to Crackdown

Press Release 22/February/2011-PEN Sounds Alarm Over Treatment of Jailed Nobel Laureate's Wife in China

Press Release 09/December/2010-PEN International Reiterates Call to Release Liu Xiaobo as Peace Prize Awarded

Press Release 09/December/2010-PEN American Center Pays Tribute to Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

Press Release 10/November/2010-PEN American Center President Appiah Testifies Before Congress on Liu Xiaobo

Press Release 08/October/2010-PEN's Own Liu Xiaobo, Imprisoned Chinese Writer, Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Press Release 01/June/2010-Liu Xiaobo Transferred to Remote Prison in Liaoning Province

Press Release 31/December/2009-Writers Ring in New Year with Call to Free Liu Xiaobo

Press Release 25/December/2009-PEN President Appiah Calls Sentencing of Liu Xiaobo a Mockery and a Scandal

Press Release 23/December/2009-World Awaits Verdict in Liu Xiaobo Trial

Press Release 11/December/2009-Liu Xiaobo Formally Indicted

Press Release 07/December/2009-PEN Renews Calls for Liu Xiaobo's Release

Press Release 02/October/2009-PEN Applauds Passage of Congressional Resolution for Liu Xiaobo

Press Release 24/June/2009-Writers Condemn Formal Arrest of Chinese Colleague Liu Xiaobo

Press Release 16/June/2009-More than Six Months on, Liu Xiaobo Remains in Detention

Press Release 29/April/2009-Prominent Writer Liu Xiaobo Honored in New York

Press Release 16/April/2009-Liu Xiaobo to Receive Top PEN Honor

Press Release 09/December/2008-Leading PEN Member Liu Xiaobo Detained in China on Eve of Human Rights Day

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