Liu Xia released as China seeks united trade front with Germany

The widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning political dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China for Germany in news welcomed by rights groups who had long pressed for her release from what was effectively house arrest.

She thanked "all those people that have supported Liu Xiaobo" and "strongly asked" the Chinese government to release the dissident, who died a year ago of liver cancer while on medical parole from an 11-year sentence for "subversion". "I'm grateful for those who cared about her and helped her all these year", Liu Hui wrote, according to Ming Pao. "I am very excited when my sister left safely", he said.

Liu's close friends Gao Yu, a veteran journalist in Beijing, and Wu Yangwei, better known by his pen name Ye Du, said Liu Xia took a Finnair flight to Berlin on Tuesday morning.

"While Liu Xia is free, our work is not complete", he said.

"Liu Xia might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother's safety", Poon said.

PEN America's members and supporters, working in solidarity with writers and readers all over the world, have campaigned relentlessly for Liu Xia's freedom throughout her confinement through letters, postcards, petitions, live protests, social media campaigns, videos, the distribution of her poems, and readings of her work.

In a rare case of a top Chinese official taking questions about a sensitive matter, Premier Li Keqiang was asked about Liu's case during a briefing as part of a May visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Chinese government has confirmed the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has left China for Germany, saying Liu Xia is seeking medical treatment.

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However, since October 2010, when Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she had been held arbitrarily under house arrest. "It would be most callous of the Chinese authorities to use Liu Xia's relatives to put pressure on Liu Xia to prevent her from speaking out in future".

An accomplished artist and poet, Liu told Associated Press reporters during an unexpected visit to her home in 2012 that she had anticipated China would punish her for her husband's Nobel award but she had not expected to be kept under "Kafkaesque" house arrest. The last time China let a high-profile political prisoner leave was in 2012, when blind activist Chen Guangcheng was allowed to fly to NY after escaping from house arrest and hiding for six days in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Liu Hui is in China.

China had criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release as interference in its domestic affairs and insisted that Liu Xia was free.

Diplomats have said that authorities had continued to monitor Liu Xia after the death of her husband and she had only been able to meet and speak to friends and family in pre-arranged phone calls and visits.

Efforts to secure Ms Liu's departure came amid growing concern over her health and state of mind, after Liao Yiwu, a dissident and friend living in Germany, released details of a telephone conversation in April in which an anguished Ms Liu said she was losing hope of leaving.

Memorial events to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death on Friday are planned in cities around the world including Hong Kong, Taipei and Berlin.

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