Widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo arrives in Germany

Albert Ho

"It is wonderful news that Liu Xia is finally free and that her persecution and illegal detention at the hands of the Chinese authorities has come to an end, almost one year since Liu Xiaobo's untimely and undignified death".

Liu Xia, the widow of late Chinese political dissident Liu Xiaobo, has left Beijing on a flight to Berlin, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources. He wrote, "I am grateful for people's concern and assistance these past years". "Ever since her late husband received the Nobel Peace Prize while in a Chinese prison, Liu Xia was also unjustly detained".

"While Liu Xia is free, our work is not complete", he said.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia.

Friends say Liu Xia had expressed an interest in going to Germany, where she has a network of friends among Chinese dissidents.

"Now, the harassment of Liu Xia's family who remain in China must end too".

In a rare case of a top Chinese official taking questions about a sensitive matter, Premier Li Keqiang was asked about Liu's case during a briefing as part of a May visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

While there was no immediate comment from its embassy, Germany had been urging China to allow Mrs Liu to leave.

He was first imprisoned in connection with the violently quashed 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his writings during his final 11-year-sentence.

In a July 2017 photo released by the Shenyang Municipal Information Office, Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize victor and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, holds a portrait of him during his funeral at a funeral parlor in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province.

Friends and advocates have been calling for Liu Xia's release so she can seek medical help for severe depression.

Human rights groups are cautiously celebrating Liu Xia's departure from China on Tuesday, as they urge the worldwide community to keep in mind the abuses suffered by her and her late husband, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.

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She departed Beijing overnight and is traveling to Berlin, according to her attorney, Jared Genser, who credited President Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, "and so many others in the global community who helped make today possible".

Liu Hui is in China.

China's Foreign Ministry later confirmed her departure, saying she left the country "by her own free will" for medical treatment.

The Chinese government has criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release, saying that foreign countries were making "improper remarks" over local issues.

Liu Xia was never charged but was largely confined to her Beijing home.

China claimed that Liu Xia's freedom of movement was not impeded.

Efforts to secure Liu Xia's departure came amid growing concern over her health and state of mind, after Liao Yiwu, a dissident and friend living in Germany, released details of a telephone conversation in April in which an anguished Liu Xia said she was losing hope of leaving.

"I'm in a sea of joy", said veteran activist "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung as he drank a toast to her. "It would be easier to die than to live".

A successful artist and poet, Liu told Associated Press reporters during a visit to her home in 2012 that she had expected China would punish her for her husband's Nobel award.

Mr Liu died of liver cancer last July while under government custody, prompting fresh worldwide calls for his wife's release. He died while serving a prison sentence for "inciting subversion".

Liu flew via Helsinki to Berlin, where she arrived just days before the first anniversary of her husband's death from liver cancer.

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