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IFJ demands immediate release of Liu Xiaobo

(IFJ/IFEX) - February 11, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounced the Beijing High People's Court decision today to uphold an 11-year jail sentence and two years' deprivation of political rights against human rights writer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Liu Xiaobo.

Liu Xiaobo, 54, was sentenced on December 25 on charges of "inciting subversion of state power" for his involvement in initiating and drafting the Charter 08 political reform petition, sent to China's Government to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 2008.

His sentence is one of the most severe punishments under the wide-reaching and vague law which was introduced in 1997.

No media were permitted in the court today or to make contact with Liu's wife or representatives from foreign consulates and embassies attending the trial.

"Liu's sentence undermines China's constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression and is a violation of internationally recognised legal instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

China is a signatory to the ICCPR but has not ratified it.

"China is using this law as a tool to silence dissent, by criminalising those who dare to voice their own views and additionally by restricting media reporting on such cases," White said.

According to the Criminal Procedures Law in China, Liu and his lawyer were not permitted to speak during the appeal hearing. Liu's wife, Liu Xia, was allowed to enter the court room under police escort.

The IFJ joins other international press freedom and human rights organisations and national governments in demanding Liu's release, the lifting of restrictions on media reporting of such cases, and an end to China's use of legal mechanisms to curb press freedom.

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