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Wife of Jailed Nobel Winner Urges Friends, Activists to Attend Award Ceremony

A Japanese protester holding a placard with a message reading, "Free (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Dr. Liu Xiaobo," marches down streets in central Tokyo as an estimated 2,500 protesters take to the streets in a protest against China, 16 Oct 2010.

The wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has urged scores of Chinese activists and friends to attend the award ceremony in Oslo on her behalf because mainland authorities are likely to ban her from attending. Chinese officials refuse to say if they would allow Liu Xia to make the trip to collect the prize on her husband's behalf.

Liu Xia said in an open letter posted online Tuesday that she believes her husband would want his friends and fellow activists to attend the ceremony.

She says she want them to share in what she describes as Liu Xiaobo's glory because it seems unlikely that the Chinese government will allow her jailed husband or her to travel to collect his Nobel Peace Prize in Norway.

China's government has reacted angrily to the award and calls it a gross interference in its internal affairs.

At a regular news briefing Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu was pushed to say if Liu Xia will be allowed to travel to Oslo.

Ma refuses to answer directly, calling it a hypothetical question.

He says reporters should first ask Liu Xia if she wants to attend the ceremony instead of asking government officials who have the power to grant travel documents.

Liu Xia cannot be contacted because she has been under house arrest since her husband was given the Nobel earlier this month.

Liu Xiaobo is a dissident writer and government critic. He helped write a paper called Charter 08 which calls for sweeping political reforms. After it was issued, he was arrested, and last year he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion.

The Chinese government says he is a convicted criminal who does not deserve the Nobel.

Numerous world leaders and international rights groups have called for his release since he was awarded the prize.

A group of 15 Peace Prize winners, including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, also issued a letter urging world leaders attending next month's G-20 summit to raise Liu's case with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Liu Xia's letter lists 143 people, many of them well-known Chinese activists.

Since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the prize, many Chinese dissidents say they have been harassed or placed under house arrest.