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Writer Liao Yiwu finally permitted to travel outside China

(PEN American Center/IFEX) - New York City, September 14, 2010 - PEN American Center today welcomed the Chinese government's decision to lift its travel ban against renowned writer and Independent Chinese PEN Center Board Member Liao Yiwu, who is traveling to Germany to appear in several literary festivals in the coming weeks.

Liao, author of the internationally-acclaimed work The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China From the Bottom Up, was told over the weekend that he would receive an exit permit, and he passed through immigration in Beijing without incident earlier today. He is due to arrive in Berlin on Wednesday morning.

"After years of trying, this turned out to be an easy process," Liao said from Beijing. "I can't believe this is happening. I look forward to the festival."

Liao had been invited to appear at literary events in Germany several times in recent years, but the Chinese government had always stepped in and prevented him from attending, even forcibly removing him from a plane in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, last March, and putting him under house arrest.

"We are relieved to hear the news that our colleague Liao Yiwu is finally safely on his way to Germany after months of refusal by the Chinese authorities," said Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. "We are hopeful that this means that more Chinese writers will be permitted to travel freely to share their views and their work with the outside world."

"We will be monitoring the situation to ensure that there are no repercussions for Liao when he returns home to Chengdu in October," Siems added.

Liao will hold a press conference on Thursday, September 16, in Berlin, and will read from his work the following day at a literature event in Hamburg. On Sunday, he will travel back to Berlin to participate in an event at the Berlin Literature Festival. He will appear at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the second week of October and will also travel to Cologne for a reading of his work on October 11. He will stay in Germany for six weeks.

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