Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China

Albert Ho

Liu Xia, the widow of late Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning political dissident Liu Xiaobo, left China on a flight to Berlin early on Tuesday, one of her friends told Reuters. "I'm grateful for those who cared about her and helped her all these year", Liu Hui wrote, according to Ming Pao.

Liu was awarded the Nobel prize on October 8, 2010. Her forced solitude was an emblem of Chinese cruelty toward a wife whose husband was ripped away from her for the crime of expressing his views, and then-nearly exactly a year ago-allowed to die in prison while denied access to potentially lifesaving medical treatment overseas.

Johnny Lau, a political commentator in Hong Kong, said he believed the authorities had let Ms Liu go to avoid her case sparking a "surge" of pressure on China around the July 13 anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death.

Authorities are still holding Liu Xia's brother, Liu Hui, who was convicted of fraud and imprisoned in a case supporters say was in retaliation against the attention given the Nobel laureate.

China had repeatedly said Liu Xia was free and accorded all rights guaranteed to her by law.

While authorities allowed Liu Xia to leave China, her brother Liu Hui reportedly has remained in China.

In a letter published a year ago, Liu Xia wrote to a friend that she was "going mad" in her isolation, according to the AFP news agency.

China reported today (July 10) that she departed Beijing on a Finnair flight to Berlin late Monday night, citing unnamed sources.

After his death, his wife Liu Xia-who was with him in the hospital in his last days-disappeared back into the state of house arrest she'd lived in for years.

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"This is not a diplomatic issue", she said.

Liu Xia poses with a photo of her and her husband during an interview at her home in Beijing on December 6, 2012. Su Yutong, a family friend based in Germany, also confirmed her departure.

China has previously criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release, saying that foreign countries were making "improper remarks" over what Beijing sees as a domestic affair.

Close friends said she had limited access to the outside world, and was only occasionally permitted to leave her Beijing apartment to visit her parents or her husband at his prison in the northeastern province of Liaoning. "It's easier to die than live".

"Xiaobo is gone, and there's nothing in the world for me now", Liu tearfully told Liao. "Using death to defy could not be any simpler for me".

Despite a diagnosis of late stage liver cancer and calls from the global community to release him for urgent medical treatment, Liu Xiaobo died at the age of 61 while still imprisoned on July 13, 2017.

The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died of tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while jailed for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

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.

Several well-known human rights activists and worldwide humanitarian organizations have condemned the Chinese government's treatment of Liu Xia.

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