US calls for the release of Liu Xiaobo's wife
The United States is calling on China's government to release the wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo from house arrest following his death yesterday in the northeastern city of Shenyang. He had been battling liver cancer.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China should free Liu Xia and let her leave China as she wishes. He sent condolences over Liu's death to her and other loved ones.
Tillerson said the world mourns Liu's "tragic passing." He said Liu, China's most prominent political prisoner, dedicated his life to improving China and humankind, and to pursuing justice and liberty.
Tillerson said Liu "embodied the human spirit that the Nobel Prize rewards" by fighting for freedom, equality and constitutional rule in China.
The US had urged China in recent days to let Liu seek medical care at a location of his choice. China did not grant that request.
Meanwhile, Norway's Nobel Committee has mourned the death of the Peace Prize laureate and levelled harsh criticism at the "free world" for its "hesitant, belated reactions" to his serious illness and imprisonment.
The organisation's chairwoman, Berit Reiss-Andersen, says the Chinese government "bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death".
Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 but was unable to attend the award ceremony because he had been sentenced to prison by Chinese officials for allegedly inciting subversion.
Reiss-Andersen said in a statement that in the committee's view, "he had not committed any criminal act ... his trial and imprisonment were unjust".
She said, "It is a sad and disturbing fact that the representatives of the free world, who themselves hold democracy and human rights in high regard, are less willing to stand up for those rights for the benefit of others."