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Hundreds in Hong Kong March for Nobel Winner's Freedom

Pro-democracy protesters with banners bearing photos of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo march to the Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong, 05 Dec 2010

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have joined a rally demanding that China release jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo ahead of a formal presentation of his Nobel Peace Prize this week.

At least 400 protesters marched Sunday through Hong Kong's financial district to a Chinese government liaison office, holding banners and chanting slogans calling for Liu Xiaobo's freedom.

The marchers expressed support for Liu's call for democratic reforms in China and urged Chinese authorities to free his wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest.

The Nobel Committee is due to hold a ceremony Friday in the Norwegian capital Oslo to present Liu's peace prize, despite his ongoing detention and Beijing's moves to block his relatives from leaving China to accept the award.

Liu is a co-author of "Charter 08," a petition calling for sweeping political reforms and freedoms in China, a one-party state. Chinese authorities sentenced him to 11 years in prison for subversion last year.

China has denounced the Nobel Committee's decision to award Liu the peace prize and has pressured foreign diplomats to boycott the award ceremony.

Hong Kong is a former British colony whose constitution guarantees Western-style civil liberties typically denied in mainland China, such as the right to protest against Beijing's Communist leadership.

Liu received further support Sunday from former Czech President Vaclav Havel and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In an article published in British newspaper The Observer, Havel and Tutu called for Liu's "unconditional" release.

The two accused China of supporting "abusive regimes" and using "brutal force" to crush dissent within its borders. They said Beijing must undertake "substantial reform" if it is to be viewed within the international community as a "true leader."

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