The wife of jailed Chinese Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo has spoken out from house arrest through her poetry, in a secretly filmed video.

The clip shows Liu Xia reading two of her new works at the couple’s flat in Beijing last month. She has been held there under tight restrictions since shortly after the announcement that her husband had won the Nobel award in 2010.

The footage was released on Tuesday, as activists in New York pressed again for her freedom. In December, the poet made a plea for basic rights, such as the ability to see a doctor of her own choosing and to work and make a living.

Liu is seen sitting at her desk with a notebook, holding a cigarette in her left hand, as she reads the first, untitled, poem.

After reading the second work, titled Drinking, she quickly gives a thumbs up to the cameraperson.

Journalists from Associated Press and a handful of activists have managed to slip past guards at her compound in the past, but have been able to see her for only a few minutes.

Bei Ling, president of the Independent Chinese Pen Center, said Liu Xia’s visits to her husband are also more tightly controlled, with the couple having to communicate through plastic dividers. “She’s very depressed,” Bei said.

Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, for his role in co-authoring and disseminating Charter 08, a call for democratic freedoms. His wife has not been accused of a crime and Chinese officials do not acknowledge her detention.

In spring last year she made a brief public appearance outside her brother’s trial, shouting to waiting diplomats and media: “I’m not free – tell everybody I’m not free!”

Her brother, Liu Hui, was jailed for 11 years for fraud, but friends and supporters have blamed retaliation by authorities, with Liu Xia describing the case as “simply persecution”. Friends and supporters have said she is depressed owing to the psychological pressure on her and her family.

The new footage was screened in New York at an event organised by Independent Chinese Pen Center, the Pen American Center, and Friends of LXB.