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Obama to China: Free Nobel Prize winner

By Associated Press
Friday, October 8, 2010 14:13 EDT
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Reuters reports that police in Beijing have forced Liu Xia, the wife of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, out of her home in order to keep her away from the media.

The officers said they wanted to take Liu to the prison in Jinzhou in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where her husband Liu Xiaobo is being held in an apparent effort to prevent foreign reporters from speaking to her, she said.

“They are forcing me to leave Beijing,” said Liu as her brothers packed her bags with plainclothes police waiting for her outside. “They want me to go to Liaoning to see Xiaobo. They want to distance me from the media.”

International Business Times reports that China has summoned the Norwegian ambassador to explain the decision to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiabo, a Chinese dissident associated with the pro-democracy movement that was crushed in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“They wanted to officially share their opinion, their disagreement and their protest,” a Norwegian foreign ministry spokeswoman said. “We emphasized that this is an independent committee and the need to continue good bilateral relations between our countries.”

President Barack Obama called on China Friday to quickly release imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, lauding the dissident as an “eloquent and courageous” supporter of human rights and democracy.

The comments are likely to further rattle China at a time when the United States is stepping up pressure on Beijing over a currency policy Washington blames for job losses.

Obama’s statement, released hours after Liu was awarded the prize, reflected the sensitivity of U.S.-Chinese relations.

Obama praised China’s “dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.” But, he added, “this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected.”

U.S. officials try to strike a balance with China, pressing it on economic and human rights issues, while trying to win crucial Chinese support on the Iranian and North Korean nuclear standoffs, climate change and other difficult issues.

FULL AP STORY FOLLOWS BELOW

 
 
 
 
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