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Lech Walesa Offers to PIck Up Nobel Prize for Jailed Chinese Dissident

Poland's former president, Solidarity trade union leader and Nobel laureate Lech Walesa (file photo)
Poland's former president, Solidarity trade union leader and Nobel laureate Lech Walesa (file photo)

Former Polish President and Nobel Peace laureate Lech Walesa offered Monday to collect this year's Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The French News Agency quoted Mr. Walesa as saying he would only represent Liu "symbolically" at next month's award ceremony in Oslo. He said the medal, diploma and prize money would remain in the Norwegian capital until the Chinese dissident could come and claim it.  

Mr. Walesa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful opposition to Poland's communist government, said he wants to draw attention to the fact that Liu is being prevented from traveling to Norway to receive the prize and that human rights are being violated.

However, Norwegian media on Monday quoted the Norwegian Nobel Committee as saying the award would remain in Oslo until its "rightful owner" could come to claim it.

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, is reported to be under house arrest in Beijing.

The committee has awarded the 2010 prize to Liu Xiaobo for his efforts to advance democracy in China.

China sentenced him to 11 years in prison last year for organizing a pro-democracy petition called Charter 08.

China has called for a boycott of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and warned of unspecified consequences for any country that takes part.

The Nobel committee says that along with China, five countries so far have said they will not send representatives to the ceremony. They are Cuba, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Russia.

Lech Walesa won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the Solidarity labor union, which openly opposed Poland's communist government, leading to its eventual collapse.

He declined to attend the ceremony, fearing the Polish authorities would not let him back into the country if he left. His wife picked up the prize on his behalf.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and DPA.

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