Finally freed by the Chinese authorities this morning, Liu Xia, 57, had been under house arrest in Beijing ever since her imprisoned husband, Liu Xiaobo, a recipient of RSFs Press Freedom Prize, was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2010. He died in detention last year.
According to diplomats, she left Beijing on a flight bound for Helsinki, from where she was due to travel to Germany.
“RSF always fought for Liu Xia’s release and can only welcome this news,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau. “But it should not be allowed to eclipse the suffering that the Chinese authorities inflicted on her during eight long years of captivity, or the fact that more than 50 defenders of the freedom to inform are still languishing in Chinese jails.”
In May, the Berlin-based dissident Liao Yiwu released the recording of a phone conversation in which Liu Xia could be heard expressing her despair about the Chinese government’s refusal to let her travel to Berlin.
Her release came during a visit to Germany by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang that included a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A statue to the memory of Liu Xiaobo is to be unveiled in Taipei by the “Friends of Liu Xiaobo” and RSF on 13 July, the first anniversary of his death.
One of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists, China is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.