Wife of Chinese Nobel winner says she is under house arrest

BEIJING — The wife of China’s Nobel Peace Prize winner said late Sunday that Chinese authorities allowed her to visit her husband, Liu Xiaobo, in prison over the weekend, then placed her under house arrest when she returned to Beijing.

Liu Xia disappeared from public view for two days after Friday’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. According to a Twitter posting on an account that she has used previously, the authorities took her to the prison in the northeast province of Liaoning, where he is being held.

After returning to the capital Sunday, Liu wrote in her Twitter note: “I don’t know when I’ll be able to see everybody.” She said the house arrest had begun on Friday, and her phone was also cut off now.

Repeated attempts to call her prompted a recording that her phone was turned off.

It was unclear whether Chinese authorities knew that Liu was using her Twitter account, or whether they had allowed it to cool speculation about her well-being. Mo Shaoping, whose law firm represents Liu Xiaobo, had said less than an hour before the note appeared that he had no idea where Liu Xia was.

“I think there is very little doubt that she is under either custody or orders from the police to make herself scarce,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

As Liu Xia revealed her whereabouts, China’s ruling Communist Party appeared to still be considering how to respond to the very public challenge to its authoritarian rule that the prize represents. Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for his role in drafting a political manifesto calling for democratic reforms in China, and the Nobel committee made it clear that it chose him in part as a rebuke of Beijing’s authoritarian rule.

Observers said the award, at the very least, is a foreign relations setback for China, and depending on what the government does next could turn Liu Xiaobo into a galvanizing figure for the splintered domestic dissident community.

“It’s a significant crisis for the party leadership… . We may have to wait a little bit before the instructions come from the top leadership,” Bequelin said.

Concerns for Liu Xia were magnified by reports of Chinese government pressure on those sympathetic to Liu Xiaobo.

The New York offices of PEN, an international free-speech advocacy group, confirmed that almost a dozen members of the independent Chinese PEN Center — of which Liu Xiaobo is a former president — were harassed after the prize announcement Friday evening.

Eight Chinese PEN members were taken in for questioning-and-warning sessions with officials — a process known euphemistically as “having tea.” Two more were put under house arrest and one was put in detention for eight days, New York PEN said.

China’s government over the weekend continued to prevent widespread dissemination of news about Liu’s award.

While it was possible to access foreign media sites and use special software to circumvent censorship, most Chinese probably did not know that one of their own had won the Nobel.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Emergency responders surround an ultralight airplane that crashed Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington, resulting in the pilot's death. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Pilot dead in ultralight plane crash at Arlington Municipal Airport

There were no other injuries or fatalities reported, a city spokesperson said.

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

A person walks in the rain at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
First heavy rain event predicted Sunday night for Snohomish County

Starting Sunday evening, 1 to 1½ inches of rain is expected in western Washington. It marks the end of fire season, meteorologists said.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Clinton man, 61, dies in motorcycle crash Friday

Washington State Patrol lists speed as the cause. No other people or vehicles were involved.

Inside the new Boeing 737 simulator at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
New Boeing 737 simulator takes ‘flight’ in Mukilteo

Pilots can test their flying skills or up their game at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo.

Most Read