10/12/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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Nobel laureate Mo Yan calls for Liu Xiaobo's release

Accused of complacency towards the regime, the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature speaks out in favour of the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. "I hope he can gain freedom as early as possible," Mo Yan said. However, little is now known about Liu, co-authored of Charter 08 who was sentenced to 11 years in prison. His brothers recently saw him but cannot speak about it, whilst his wife is still under house arrest without charges after three years.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Mo Yan, the Chinese writer who won this year's Nobel Prize for literature, said he hoped the 2010 Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo would be freed "as soon as possible". Speaking from his native city of Gaomi (Shandong province), he told journalists, "I hope he can gain freedom as early as possible".

Two years after winning the Nobel Prize, the dissident's fate remains the same. Arrested in September 2009, he was sentenced the same year to 11 years in prison on Christmas day for subversion. He had gained international notoriety in 2008 when he had drafted Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto similar to Vaclav Havel's Charter 77, which gathered tens of thousands of signatures across the country.

Angered by the award going to the dissident, Chinese authorities accused the Nobel Committee of being anti-Chinese, and launched an economic boycott against Norway, where the prize is awarded, and against Sweden, home of the academies that award the other Nobel prizes.

When the award ceremony was held in 2010, an empty chair with a microphone in front represented the laureate to underscore his incarceration.

On 26 September, Liu's brothers, Xiaoguang and Xiaoxuan, were able to visit him in prison. He appeared to be in good health and spirit. But Liu's wife, Liu Xia, remains under house arrest with their daughter unable to leave their home. The latter was 14-months old when her father won the Nobel Prize.

Celebrated as China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan has not had any impact on Liu's fate yet. At least however, his appeal does clear the air soured by the controversy that followed his award when some dissidents, like Ai Weiwei and Wei Jingsheng, accused him of complacency towards the Communist regime.

According to Wei, who took part in the "Democracy Wall' movement and endured 18 years of hard labour, "this award is not really based on true skill in literature but a reflection of the will of big business".

"Just look at the elated hype on the Nobel prize by the Chinese government before and after the announcement. We could tell that this prize was awarded for the purpose of pleasing the Communist regime" and getting new and better contracts.

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