An 11 year jail term handed down to China’s most prominent dissident has triggered an outcry from human rights groups and governments in the West.
Liu Xiaobo, a veteran campaigner for political freedoms in the Communist country, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power”.
Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch said: “This is an extremely harsh verdict and we are surprised and shocked that the Chinese government has chosen to punish Liu Xiaobo so severely, considering he is completely innocent of these charges of subversion.”
Western diplomats and reporters were barred from his trial. The long sentence, seen as a warning to others, has angered activists and Washington says it is “deeply concerned”.
Gregory May, a political officer from the US Embassy in Beijing said: “We continue to call on the Chinese government for his immediate release and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens to peacefully express their political views in favour of universally recognised fundamental freedoms, including the right to petition one’s government.”
Liu’s conviction comes after he co-authored a petition last year, calling for sweeping political reforms. As yellow ribbons of solidarity were put in place by his supporters, Liu is expected to appeal against the sentence.