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Nobel Peace laureate's wife remains under house arrest

By Steven Jiang, CNN
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Wife of Nobel Prize winner detained
  • Liu Xia also is banned from talking to friends or media, her husband's lawyer says
  • The attorney will request the Peace Laureate's early release, but doesn't expect it
  • Chinese authorities have cut off the dissident's communications
  • News of the win has been heavily censored across China

Beijing, China (CNN) -- Liu Xia, the wife of Nobel Peace laureate and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, remains under house arrest in Beijing and banned from talking to friends or media, his lawyer said.

Shang Baojun also said he would try to push for Liu Xiaobo's early release, but doubted it would happen.

"The precondition for sentence reduction or parole is an acknowledgement of your crime," he said. "If Xiaobo would do that, he wouldn't have won the peace prize."

Liu Xia was taken to see her husband Saturday in a prison about 500 kilometers (311 miles) northeast of Beijing and told him of the honor.

On hearing the news, the wife later posted on, Liu Xiaobo began to cry and said, "This is for the martyrs of Tiananmen Square."

Despite allowing the brief meeting, Chinese authorities have cut off Liu Xia's communications with the outside world since Friday night, prompting protests from human rights organizations.

"It's absolutely outrageous," said Beth Schwanke, legislative counsel for the U.S.-based group Freedom Now.

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Liu Xia's mobile phone service has been disconnected, but she resumed updating her Twitter account -- albeit intermittently -- after returning home Sunday.

Her first tweet confirmed her home confinement and that police had broken her mobile phone.

"We'll talk about the future later," she added, but has since been only retweeting others' comments and articles.

One of the items Liu Xia posted was a link to Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform and human rights in China co-authored by her husband, which landed him in prison for "inciting subversion of state power."

Since her husband won the peace prize, Liu Xia has gained several thousand new Twitter followers.

News of the win continues to be heavily censored across Chinese media -- in print, on air and online. The government has even blocked the peace prize section of the official Nobel Web site.

Authorities pulled the plug on international television networks -- including CNN -- when the Nobel Committee announced the winner Friday, and CNN's reports on Liu have remained blacked out.

Exiled Chinese dissident reacts to Liu's win

China's state media have ratcheted up their rhetoric against the peace prize, after the foreign ministry called the choice of Liu a "blasphemy" to the prize. Most news portals carried a dispatch from the official Xinhua news agency, quoting a Russian commentator who criticized the prize as being a political tool of the West.

China Daily, the official English-language newspaper, ran a commentary that said the Nobel decision was a Western plot to contain a rising China. Another article, with the scathing headline "A Chinese traitor who received a prize is still a Chinese traitor," has circulated online.

Despite official determination to erase all positive mentions of Liu from the public domain, his victory has inspired great enthusiasm among many in China, especially in the country's nascent but fast-growing civic society,

"I felt very moved, because the award was also for all the Chinese who pursue freedom and democracy in this country," said activist lawyer Xu Zhiyong.

He said police detained at least three people for celebrating Liu's win, with several activists remaining under house arrest.

One of them is dissident Zhou Duo in Beijing. He told CNN that police officers began guarding his doors Saturday night after he returned from a dinner party in honor of Liu.

"It really shows the government's total lack of self-confidence despite the appearance of their strength," he said.

Referring to the foreign ministry's angry response, Zhou said it actually revealed Beijing's deep emotional attachment to the Nobel prizes.

"It's only a blasphemy because they consider it sacred," he said.

Already, Chinese news Web sites have started reporting on the Nobel prize in economics -- to be given out Monday -- as if nothing happened last Friday.