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April 23, 2013

Wife of Jailed Nobel Laureate: 'I Am Not Free'

by VOA News

The wife of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has made an appeal for her own freedom, during a rare public appearance outside of her house arrest.

Liu Xia was attending the Tuesday trial of her brother, Liu Hui, who has been accused of real estate fraud in a case that some say has been exaggerated by Chinese authorities in order to punish the family's activism.

As she left the court, she shouted to reporters out the window of her car, "I am not free - tell everyone I am not free." It is one of the only times she has been seen outside the Beijing apartment where she has been held since 2011 without charge.

Her husband, Liu Xiaobo, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 on subversion charges related to his co-authoring of "Charter 08," a manifesto calling for political reforms and greater rights in Communist-ruled China.

After he won the Peace Prize in 2010, authorities placed his wife Liu Xia under house arrest before she could accept the prize in his place. She has not been publicly charged with a crime.

Her brother faces charges of committing fraud in connection with a real estate deal and faces up to 14 years in jail. His attorney, Shang Baojun, says the dispute has been resolved. Shang says Liu Xia believes the charges against her brother are politically motivated.

"We are aware that Liu Xia is worried about her brother's case, she thinks the brother has been affected by her own problems [with authorities] and this is the reason why he is now facing such severe accusations," he said.

Shang said his client will plead not guilty. A verdict is expected to be announced soon.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.