China rejects calls for dissident’s release

Protestors holding a picture of Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo march to the US consulate in Hong Kong

Protestors holding a picture of Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo march to the US consulate in Hong Kong on 13 November 2009. The demonstrators were asking the Chinese government for the release of all prisoners of conscience including writer Liu Xiaobo. File photo/AFP/Getty Images/Mike Clarke/China


BEIJING, China, 15 December 2009

China on Tuesday rejected as “unacceptable” US and EU calls to release prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, who appears headed for trial on subversion charges after co-authoring a bold petition for democracy.

Both the United States and European Union on Monday had urged China to free Liu and end the harassment and detention of political dissidents.

“The accusations are unacceptable to China,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters, adding that “China brooks no interference” in such cases.

“We oppose any foreign forces using this as an excuse to interfere in China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty.”

The 53-year-old Liu, who was jailed after playing a role in the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests, was arrested last December after he co-authored Charter 08, a widely-circulated petition calling for greater democracy.

The dissident writer’s family said Saturday that Liu had been formally indicted on subversion charges in a move seen as bringing him closer to trial.

“The US government is concerned that Chinese citizens such as Mr Liu may have been detained or harassed solely as a result of having exercised a universal right to freedom of expression,” US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Monday.

“We urge the government of China to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens to peacefully express their desire for internationally recognised freedoms,” he told reporters.

The European Union, meanwhile, expressed its “deep concern” over Liu’s case.

“The EU calls on the Chinese government to unconditionally release Mr Liu Xiaobo and to end the harassment and detention of other signatories of Charter 08,” a statement by the EU presidency said.

Rights groups in China fear that after holding Liu for more than a year without trial, officials have now sped up his prosecution and will rush the case through trial during the holiday season.

Liu’s lawyer Shang Baojun has said the dissident would face the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.”

Rights groups accuse Beijing of abusing such charges to silence critics.

Copyright © 2009 Agence France-Presse Published in AFP/Google News Posted in News » Tags: , , , , ,