July 20, 2017 / 9:41 PM / 3 months ago

U.N. rights chief seeks meeting with China over Liu Xiaobo's widow

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein said on Thursday he plans to seek a meeting with Chinese officials to urge freedom of movement for the widow of Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died of cancer while in custody.

People place flowers and light candles in front a picture of late Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo outside the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway July 13, 2017. NTB Scanpix/Audun Braastad via REUTERS

Liu Xia has been under effective house arrest since her husband - who died a week ago - won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010; she was allowed to visit him in prison about once a month. She suffers from depression.

“I intend to have a meeting with Chinese officials,” Zeid told reporters in New York. “We are now focused on his wife and trying to ensure that she has freedom of movement and that if she wants to leave China she should be able to leave China.”

Liu Xiaobo, 61, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms.

China has said the case of Liu Xia remains an internal matter.

“The claim was that there was never any real restriction, but the feeling was that she was being restricted. We want to use this moment to assure ourselves that she is able to leave if she wants to,” Zeid said.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler

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