China lets Nobel widow leave for Berlin after house arrest
BERLIN » In the fall of 2010, Liu Xia traveled to a prison in northeast China to tell her husband, the dissident intellectual Liu Xiaobo, that he had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. That was the last time she left home as a free woman. Until this week. China on Tuesday allowed Liu Xia to fly to Berlin, ending an eight-year house arrest that drew international criticism and made the soft-spoken, chain-smoking 57-year-old poet with a shaven head a tragic icon known around the world.
The release of Liu Xia, who was never charged with any crime, results from years of campaigning by Western governments and activists and comes just days before the one-year anniversary Friday of Liu Xiaobo’s death. Liu’s 11-year prison sentence and his wife’s subsequent detention in her home had become glaring symbols of the authoritarian government’s determination to prevent the couple from becoming an inspiration to other Chinese.