China dissident Liu Xiaobo loses appeal, US urges release
China was criticized by the US ambassador and other foreign diplomats after a Beijing court rejected the appeal of top Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo against his 11-year jail sentence, the severest in recent memory.
A Chinese court’s decision to uphold an especially harsh prison sentence against one of the country’s most prominent dissidents drew angry international protests Thursday. But the criticism of China will almost certainly go unheeded.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
United States Ambassador Jon Huntsman, in an unusual public statement, urged the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo, whose appeal against an 11-year sentence for “incitement to subversion” was rejected by a Beijing court.
Mr. Liu, a veteran campaigner for greater political freedom had “peacefully worked for the establishment of political openness and accountability in China,” said Mr. Huntsman in a statement read out by a US diplomat outside the courthouse Thursday morning.
About 20 other foreign diplomats showed their support for Liu by appearing outside the court. The verdict condemning Liu to jail “is entirely incompatible with his right to freedom of expression,” a European Union statement said.
Harshest sentence in memory
Liu appealed a sentence, handed down on Dec. 25, that shocked relatives and rights activists with its harshness. It was the heaviest punishment for such a crime that lawyers could remember.
“His harsh sentence is a stark reminder to the Chinese people and the world that there is still no freedom of expression or independent judiciary in China,” says Roseann Rife, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International.
Liu, a scholar and literary critic, was charged with “incitement to subversion” because he coauthored Charter 08, a petition for political freedom and an end to the ruling Communist party’s monopoly of power. The online petition has garnered thousands of signatures since it was released just over a year ago.
“This is a really, really difficult time for human rights in China right now,” says John Kamm, who heads the US-based human rights group Dui Hua.