Liu Xia Arrives in Germany After Eight Years of House Arrest


German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged the Chinese government to let Liu Xia and her brother leave China for Germany after the death of Liu Xiaobo in July of 2017.

The Chinese-language report said Liu Xia was aboard a Finnair flight that departed from Beijing at 11 a.m. (0300 GMT).

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. "Only in this way can I find my inner peace", she said.

Efforts to secure Liu Xia's departure came amid growing concern over her health and state of mind, after Liao Yiwu, a dissident and friend living in Germany, released details of a telephone conversation in April in which an anguished Liu Xia said she was losing hope of leaving.

She was reunited with Liu Xiaobo in late June previous year at a Shenyang hospital after the pro-democracy campaigner was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and released from jail on medical parole.

"While Liu Xia is free, our work is not complete", he said.

The couple's supporters often say that Liu Xia, who has never been formally charged, is guilty of nothing but the "crime" of being Liu Xiaobo's wife. "Until [her brother] is able to leave China to be reunited with his sister, Liu Xia will remain a hostage of the Chinese government".

Liu Xia's departure was "wonderful news" but harassment of her family remained a risk to her freedom to criticise China, Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets regularly with dissidents during visits to China and is understood to have raised Ms Liu's case with Chinese officials, including during a visit in May.

Liu Xiaobo was arrested on June 23, 2009 and later sentenced to 11 years in jail on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power", a catch-all used to punish many activists.

Authorities had assigned guards around-the-clock outside Liu's Beijing home and restricted her access to Internet and the outside world, allowing her only occasional phone calls with a small circle of friends.

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Liu Xia's release and her departure from the country show that sustained worldwide pressure can bring about positive human rights developments in China, Human Rights Watch said.

China's Foreign Ministry later confirmed her departure saying she left the country "by her own free will" for medical treatment, without specifying the ailments, according to spokeswoman Hua Chunying. During his long struggle for political reform, Liu Xia was always there to provide moral support to her husband.

Liu, as has been noted multiple times, is guilty of only having fallen in love with Liu Xiaobo, who she married in 1996.

Frances Eve, a researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said Liu Xia's release was likely meant to mute criticism around the anniversary of Liu's death.

A trade war has also broken out between China and the United States.

Mr Liu died of liver cancer last July while under government custody, prompting fresh worldwide calls for his wife's release. "The Chinese authorities tried to silence her, but she stood tall for human rights".

Liu was believed to be reluctant to leave China over the safety of her family. "It would be easier to die than to live".

China claimed that Liu Xia's freedom of movement was not impeded. Liu Xia chose Xiaobo. "Nothing would be simpler for me than dying in defiance".

He was last arrested for his role in creating Charter 08, a call for political changes in China.

Those who signed the statement included: Bernard Duhaime, chair-rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Seong-Phil Hong, chair-rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and Michel Forst, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.