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Nobel widow Liu Xia leaves China after 8 yrs' house arrest

| | Beijing

China allowed the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to be freed from house arrest and leave for Berlin on Tuesday, her relatives and close friends said, ending an eight-year ordeal that drove the poet into depression and drew intense criticism of Beijing's human rights record.

The release of Liu Xia, who has never been charged with any crime, is the result of years of campaigning by Western Governments and activists and comes just days before the one-year anniversary of the death of dissident Liu Xiaobo while he was serving a prison sentence for inciting subversion.

Liu Xia's brother, Liu Hui, wrote on a social media site: "Sister has already left Beijing for Europe at noon to start her new life. Thanks to everyone who has helped and cared for her these few years. I hope from now on her life is peaceful and happy."

Liu's release comes as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Germany, a country that in May said it would welcome the widow after a recording was released of her crying in desperation and indicating she had lost hope of being able to leave China.

Close friends Gao Yu, a veteran journalist in Beijing, and Wu Yangwei, better known by his penname Ye Du, said Liu Xia was on a Finnair flight to Berlin that left today morning.

Wu said he spoke to Liu Xia's older brother, Liu Tong. "Liu Xia has been kept isolated for so many years," said Wu by phone from the southern city of Guangzhou. "I hope that being in a free country will allow Liu Xia to heal her longstanding traumas and wounds."

 
 
 
 
 

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