Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo 'leaves China'

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo right, and his wife Liu Xia pose in this undated

"My sister left Beijing to fly to Europe this afternoon, to begin her new life".

"Neither her mental condition nor her physical condition are ideal".

Rights groups and Western nations had been raising pressure on Beijing over Liu Xia in recent months, as fears grew among rights groups that she might never be able to leave and live overseas, a wish she had made clear.

Patrick Poon from Amnesty International said it was "really wonderful" that Liu was finally allowed to leave. Xiaobo has already left, there is nothing in this world for me.

"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.

The Chinese government said she was a private citizen, free to go at anytime.

Berlin has been pushing China to let Liu leave the country following the death of her husband. He returned from an academic job in the United States to take part in the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and was arrested in the aftermath of the massacre there - the first of several stints in Chinese jail cells.

"We urge China to release all prisoners of conscience and respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all", she said on Twitter.

"Now China has made use of an opportunity to do Germany a favor so as to strengthen the Sino-German relationship".

Last year, she appeared pale, gaunt and sombre in images released by the authorities as she cared for Liu Xiaobo just before his death from liver cancer in a hospital under police custody.

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Officials at the German embassy in Beijing said they were unable to confirm the news when contacted by Reuters.

Liu's departure came during a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Berlin, where he met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, although a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman denied any "association or link between this incident and the visit".

Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has arrived in Germany following being freed from house arrest after eight years.

This however does not herald an improvement in human rights, this diplomat said, adding that on the contrary, "we can see it is getting worse".

Chinese authorities put Liu under house arrest in 2010, days after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded her imprisoned husband, Liu Xiaobo, the Peace Prize, infuriating the Chinese government. She had never been charged with a crime and was placed under close state surveillance.

Her departure comes three days before the one year anniversary of her husband's death, and amid renewed calls for her release from activists and governments around the world and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Germany, which is also home to dissident artist Ai Weiwei, has been outspoken on rights in China. Wu said he spoke to Liu Xia's older brother, Liu Tong. "But we still fear for Liu Hui, who is being kept in the country as a guarantee so that Liu Xia does not speak out overseas". Handed an 11-year jail sentence for fraud in 2013, Liu Hui was later released but remained monitored, according to friends of the family.

Western diplomats and rights groups had earlier hoped to be able to get Liu Hui out of China as well.

"Liu Xia might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother's safety", Poon said.

"It is wonderful news that Liu Xia is finally free and that her persecution and illegal detention at the hands of the Chinese authorities has come to an end, almost one year since Liu Xiaobo's untimely and undignified death", Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty said in a statement he sent to Al Jazeera.

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