On December 8, 2008, Liu was arrested and quickly sentenced to eleven years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” through his dissident writing and activities. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010; his wife was put under house arrest by Chinese authorities in response, and she continues to be held without trial today. Liu is the only Nobel Peace Prize winner who is currently in jail.
Today, International PEN released a statement signed by Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and others calling for Liu Xiaobo’s release. “In any other country, Liu Xiaobo would be considered a national treasure and honored,” said Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee. “In China, however, he remains in jail. His crime, if it can be called a crime, is to demand the freedoms for all Chinese that are enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights but which the Chinese state continues to deny him and many others. China wants to be considered a major international power. To meet those aspirations it must release him, other writers and political prisoners.”