Liu, who was not allowed to respond in court to the sentence, was able to speak with his wife, Liu Xia, for ten minutes. He told her that he would appeal, even if chances of success were slim.
Reactions to the sentence were swift. UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay said that Liu’s sentence was “extremely harsh” and undermined freedom of expression. Sweden, as the current holder of the EU presidency, said it was "deeply concerned by the disproportionate sentence”. The US Embassy in Beijing called for Liu’s immediate release.
By contrast, Chinese authorities called the criticism “a gross interference of China's internal affairs”.
For a number of Chinese dissidents, President “Hu Jintao believes that with the West weakened and human rights taking a back seat, he can ignore pressure over attacks on freedom of expression”.
China “sees Liu Xiaobo as a representative figure, and [those in power] think they can scare the others into silence with such a harsh sentence”, said dissident Christian activist Yu Jie, “but I think his case will embolden, not scare, others.”
Indeed, on the eve of the sentence, some 300 prominent Chinese offered to be tried with him because they share his ideas. They include Bao Tong, a former top government official.
On the day of Liu’s trial, last Wednesday, tens of his friends and comrades, demonstrated waving banners and shouting slogans (pictured) against China’s unfair justice system.