On Sunday, June 9, hours after Xi Jinping and Barack Obama wrapped up their two-day Sunnylands summit, a Chinese court sentenced Liu Hui, the brother-in-law of jailed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, to 11 years in prison on trumped-up fraud charges.

Liu Hui’s sister, Liu Xia, who has been held under extralegal house arrest for over two and a half years, was again let out of her home to attend the sentencing. In an interview with reporters outside the courthouse, she said, “This is simply persecution.”

“I do not know [if] perhaps this country has gone mad, or do they hate us so much?” she continued, before security forced reporters away.

Liu’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, who also represented Liu Xiaobo before he was asked to recuse himself in 2009, said that “we see this fundamentally as a civil issue, and it fundamentally does not constitute criminal fraud. Also, there is not sufficient evidence.”

Liu Hui was arrested in April 2012 on suspicion of fraud relating to a real estate dispute. He was released on parole in September after police could not find sufficient evidence to back the charges and the dispute was resolved.

It is believed that Liu Hui has been prosecuted in retaliation for two publicized visits that Liu Xia received at the end of 2012. On December 6, AP reporters managed to evade security and delivered the world’s first glimpse of Liu Xia in more than two years. On December 31, several activist friends pushed past a guard to visit with her briefly. Liu Hui was re-arrested a month later.

Liu Xia has been held at her home in Beijing without phone or Internet since October 2010, when she gave several outspoken interviews after Liu Xiaobo, a former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She has not been charged with any crime. When asked about her status, authorities continue to insist that she is not being detained.

In a statement, the Independent Chinese PEN Center expressed concern that “Liu Hui has been punished because of his connection to Liu Xiaobo,” and notes that “Chinese authorities have often suppressed dissidents by charging them and/or their families with economic offences.”

We join our colleagues and once again call on authorities to end all forms of harassment against Liu Xiaobo’s family. Respect the Chinese constitution and release Liu Xiaobo, release Liu Xia, and release Liu Hui.