Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo 'leaves China'

2017 during a ceremony for her late husband

Liu Xia, the widow of China's Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, left Beijing for Germany on Tuesday morning after years of being detained without legal cause, her family told Kyodo News, amid growing global attention to her plight.

"She was not part of our group of dissidents", Hu Jia, a Beijing-based activist and friend of Liu Xiaobo, told AFP. "I'm grateful for all those who cared about and helped her over the years".

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.

Liu Xiaobo was only the second Nobel Peace Prize victor to die in police custody, and human rights group say that shows the Communist Party's increasingly hard line.

Liu faced daily restrictions on movement and surveillance even after her husband's death, although Chinese authorities maintained she was free.

Liu Xia's departure was "wonderful news" but harassment of her family remained a risk to her freedom to criticise China, Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon said.

Her departure, following months of pressure from activists and worldwide human rights organizations, comes at the end of a visit to Germany by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

"Liu Xia should have been able to live and grieve freely while her husband was wrongly detained and when he grew ill and died", said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

Her friends said she left China on board a Finnair flight bound for Germany on Tuesday.

Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, has left Beijing after eight years of living under house arrest and two days before the anniversary of her husband's death.

Guards ate and slept outside her door, driving away well-wishers, activists, journalists and diplomats - a slow-burning ordeal worse than death, she said in a rare recording that emerged in May.

Close friends said she had limited access to the outside world, and was only occasionally permitted to leave her Beijing apartment to visit her parents or her husband at his prison in the northeastern province of Liaoning.

The couple's supporters often say that Liu Xia, who has never been formally charged, is guilty of nothing but the "crime" of being Liu Xiaobo's wife.

Memorial events to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death on Friday are planned in cities around the world including Hong Kong, Taipei and Berlin. "It's easier to die than live".

Liu Hui is in China.

China has previously criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release, saying that foreign countries were making "improper remarks" over what Beijing sees as a domestic affair.

Despite a diagnosis of late stage liver cancer and calls from the global community to release him for urgent medical treatment, Liu Xiaobo died at the age of 61 while still imprisoned on July 13, 2017.

The Chinese government has released Liu Xia, the widow of world-renowned poet and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo, from house arrest after renewed worldwide pressure from human rights activists.

Eve said the government sought to "make it seem as though it is a country ruled according to law when everything about her case has shown demonstrably that it is not". "The human rights situation in China has been deteriorating in recent years, so this stands out as something special".

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