Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China

Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize victor and political dissident Liu Xiaobo, has arrived in the German capital, Berlin.

"There are very strong elements within China who do not want to acquiesce to foreign pressures, but the problem is that they can not keep her under house arrest... in the long term because they will face global condemnation, and they do not have an explanation, so it's a very tricky hot potato..."

Her departure came three days short of the anniversary of her husband's death in a Chinese jail.

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

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. Few are allowed to visit her and plainclothes police patrol around her Beijing apartment.

"I hope she can improve her health condition and adjust her mood ... after leaving here, and then gradually start her new life."

The German embassy had offered in April to help Liu Xia travel to Germany but the move did not take place. On the same visit, at a joint press conference with Merkel, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said China was prepared to discuss "relevant individual cases" with Germany.

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. "Pressure is still needed so that Chinese authorities won't harass Liu Xia's family members in China".

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"If I can't leave, I'll die in my home", Liu Xia told her close friend Liao Yiwu, a writer who documented their phone conversation in an essay published in May.

"The release of Liu Xia shows that when concerned governments push hard enough, Beijing will back down", Richardson said. "The German government deserves credit for its sustained pressure and hard work to gain Liu Xia's release". "I am very excited when my sister left safely", he said. Her friends say her inability to leave her home has taken a toll on her mental health, especially following her husband's death.

Merkel has spoken out frequently on Chinese human rights abuses and is believed to have pushed for Liu's release during her May visit to Beijing, where she met the wives of detained human rights lawyers.

Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer last July while under government custody, prompting renewed calls for Liu Xia's release.

Liu Xiaobo was only the second Nobel Peace Prize victor to die in police custody, and human rights group say that shows the Communist Party's increasingly hard line.

The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died of tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while jailed for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. Throughout his hospitalization, authorities closely guarded Liu and only once allowed two independent foreign doctors to have access to Liu a week before his death.

China's Foreign Ministry said she had been allowed to leave for "medical treatment in Germany".

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