Liu Xia: Nobel laureate's widow allowed to leave China for Europe

China lets Nobel widow leave for Berlin after house arrest

Liu Xia, the widow of late Chinese political dissident and Nobel Peace Prize victor Liu Xiaobo, has left Beijing on a flight to Berlin, according to news reports.

Friends said the poet had taken a Finnair flight to Berlin via Helsinki, just days before the first anniversary of her husband's death from liver cancer which sparked condemnation around the world.

Several expressed concerns about the fate of her brother, Liu Hui, who has previously been convicted of fraud and sentenced to jail in a case supporters said was a form of retaliation against the attention the Nobel laureate was getting. Her brother, Liu Hui, was not on the plane, they said.

He died of liver cancer past year and his body was buried at sea.

"Neither her mental condition nor her physical condition are ideal". The last time China let a high-profile political prisoner leave was in 2012, when blind activist Chen Guangcheng was allowed to fly to NY after escaping from house arrest and hiding for six days in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Patrick Poon from Amnesty International said it was "really wonderful" that Liu was finally allowed to leave.

"Xiaobo is gone, and there's nothing in the world for me now", she continued.

Since her husband's death, she has been guarded by Chinese security personnel and constantly monitored, unable to leave her house on her own, take interviews or travel.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is now visiting Germany.

Diplomats begin to pressure China to let her leave for Germany in accordance with her husband's last wishes.

Others said Beijing might be trying to curry favour with Western powers ahead of an EU-China summit next week, as both Europe and China fight trade battles with the United States. Li met Merkel on Monday to discuss financial and business deals amid the US-China trade war.

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

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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.

Officials at the German embassy in Beijing did not confirm the news when contacted by Reuters and referred questions to the German Foreign Office in Berlin.

Hua said she "could not see any link" between Liu Xia's departure and the high-level Chinese visit.

But this does not herald an improvement in human rights, this diplomat said.

Ms Liu, a poet and artist who suffers from depression, had been under house arrest since 2010 when Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests who was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for inciting subversion, was awarded the Nobel.

The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Liu Xia's departure, according to AP.

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.

After Liu Xiaobo's funeral in July previous year, his widow did not return to her home in Beijing until September, as calls grew from the worldwide community and supporters for her release.

Observers and activists are celebrating the long awaited news of Liu Xia's release. "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".

“Now, the harassment of Liu Xias family who remain in China must end too.

Western diplomats, however, disagree.

"I hope Liu Xia can find some personal peace and restore her health in Germany", said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who called her fate in recent years "nothing short of tragic".

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