France, US, EU call for Nobel laureate Liu's immediate release
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France has called for the release of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xioabo, who was unable to attend Friday’s award ceremony because he is in a Chinese jail for subversion. China slammed the award as “political theatre”.
"I renew France's call, on the day that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, for the freeing of all those who around the world are deprived of liberty for having defended human rights," Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said.
Israel has barred Mordechai Vanunu, who was jailed for 18 years for exposing the country's secret nuclear programme, from going to Germany to accept a prize, organisers said Friday.
Vanunu was to be awarded the Carl von Ossietsky Prize in Berlin Sunday for his work promoting disarmament, but was not allowed to leave the country, the International League for Human Rights said.
Ossietzky, who was an anti-Nazi pacifist, was the only person to have been unable to accept the Nobel Peace Prize before Liu Xiaobo this year. He was in a Nazi concentration camp when he won the prize in 1936.
A ministry official said she repeated Paris’s call for Liu to be released.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for Liu’s immediate release as soon as the prize was awarded. Earlier last year’s laureate US President Barack Obama called for him to be freed “as soon as possible”.
But Beijing lashed out angrily as soon as the prize had been awarded.
“One-sidedness and lies have no footing to stand on, a Cold War mentality is unpopular,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said in a statement.
China, which has been enraged by the award, persuaded about 20 countries to boycott the ceremony and about 50 Chinese demonstrated in Oslo, dubbing Liu a criminal and accusing the prize committee of wanting to force their country to follow “the American model”.
In Hong Kong about 150 people called for Liu’s release, applauding as they watched the award ceremony live on a giant screen in a park. Live transmission of the ceremony by the BBC and CNN was blocked in mainland China.
"We regret that the laureate is not present here today," Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said as he placed the peace prize diploma and gold medal on an empty chair. "Liu has only exercised his civil rights. He has not done anything wrong. He must be released."
China must “develop a social market economy with full civil rights”, he went on.
A speech by Liu, written when he was sentenced last year, was read by the Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann.
"There is no force that can put an end to the human quest for freedom, and China will in the end become a nation ruled by law, where human rights reign supreme," it read. "I hope that I will be the last victim of China's endless literary inquisition and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech."
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