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Nobel laureate's widow is freed from house arrest, allowed to leave China

11 July 2018

But he voiced concern for her brother Liu Hui who remains in China and said she "might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother's safety".

Almost eight years ago, neither Liu nor her husband's supporters foresaw the repercussions the award would have on her: a writer and artist who never considered herself a political person.

China's Foreign Ministry later confirmed her departure, saying she left the country "by her own free will" for medical treatment. Hua provided no further information.

Liu Xia, 57, had gone to "start her new life" in Europe, her younger brother, Liu Hui, said on his WeChat account, according to a screenshot of the message shown to Reuters by a friend who declined to be identified.

The move comes a day after Chinese premier Li Keqiang met German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It also comes just days before the first anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death, an occasion that was expected to draw fresh attention to her detention. Liu Xia has never been charged with any crime.

"Liu Xia was never a political person, and yet, for nearly eight years enormous misery was heaped upon her by Chinese authorities for the crime of merely having married her husband", Genser said in a statement Tuesday. In a recording made public in May, Liu suggested she was losing hope of leaving the country.

In May, Berlin officials again said that should Liu Xia choose to go to Germany, she would be welcome there.

Germany and the United States both sent doctors to visit Liu Xiaobo during his last days.

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He was last arrested for his role in creating Charter 08, a call for political changes in China. Handed an 11-year jail sentence for fraud in 2013, Liu Hui was later released but remained monitored, according to friends of the family. During this visit, Merkel had reportedly pressed China on human rights - particularly about the case of Liu Xia. A chair sat empty for him at the ceremony in Norway.

He died of liver cancer previous year and his body was buried at sea. After the doctors determined Liu was "fit for travel", the Chinese government restated its previous position that he was too ill to travel overseas for treatment. Chinese officials told reporters she was free to do what she wished, but Western diplomats and the press were effectively banned from visiting her.

BBC Chinese, citing unnamed sources, said Liu had left Beijing on a Finnair flight to Germany on Tuesday at around 11am local time.

Virtually all of her friends' attempts to visit her were stymied by the guards that stood sentry outside her apartment at all times.

Liu Xia is an accomplished artist and poet who reluctantly followed her husband into politics two decades ago.

"Too solitary", the note read, "I have not the right to speech / To speak loudly / I live like a plant / I lie like a corpse".

Most recently, on July 4, 2018, several United Nations human rights experts published a statement reiterating their call for the Chinese government to immediately release her, saying they were deeply concerned about her mental health.

"When I visited Xiaobo, she wouldn't get involved with our political discussions".

"I'm in a sea of joy", said veteran activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as Long Hair, as he drank from a bottle of wine and gave a toast to Liu Xiaobo. I hope that our parents and my brother-in-law [Liu Xiaobo] could rest in peace now and keep blessing her [from heaven]. "Dying is easier than living - there is nothing simpler for me than to protest with death".

Nobel laureate's widow is freed from house arrest, allowed to leave China