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Nobel Laureates Voice Concern About Jailed Chinese Dissident


China is defending its handling of the case of Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, who has been detained for more than two weeks without being charged. The high-profile case has already elicited public concern from American and European Union officials.

The latest international call for the immediate release of detained Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo came from more than 150 scholars, writers and human rights activists.

The list includes several Nobel prize winning authors: South African novelist Nadine Gordimer, Irish poet Seamus Heaney and Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka. Other well-known writers include Salman Rushdie and Umberto Eco.

They called for Liu's immediate release, in an open letter sent Tuesday to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang was asked repeatedly about the detained dissident at a regular briefing in Beijing.

China opposes international interference in case

Qin says, although he is not aware of the details of the case, that China will handle the case according to law.

On the specific issue of international expressions of concern being raised for Liu Xiaobo, the spokesman says China firmly opposes any foreign interference in its internal affairs.

Fifty-three year old Liu has been an outspoken advocate for change. Lately, he has written numerous articles on the Internet, supporting his calls for reform.

Writer faced constant harassment

He has been constantly harassed by authorities and detained for his criticisms, but not yet convicted of a crime.

His latest detention, beginning earlier this month, came on the eve of the public release of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for rule of law and greater human rights protection in China.

Liu was among more than 300 lawyers, writers, scholars and artists who signed Charter 08, which was released as the world marked International Human Rights day, on December 10.

About 30 of the other signatories have been questioned by police or put under surveillance since the document became public.