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Government blocks news of Nobel Peace Prize winner

Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, with his wife Liu Xia, in Beijing in 2008
Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, with his wife Liu Xia, in Beijing in 2008

The Chinese authorities are scrambling to block broadcasts of the news that this year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the country's most famous dissident, Liu Xiaobo, report Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

News of the award is almost non-existent in China's media and has been blacked out from international news broadcasts on the BBC and CNN. Despite efforts to suppress the news, social media websites and telephone texting have spread the story widely, says CPJ.

The announcement in Oslo on 8 October stunned the Chinese government, which had repeatedly threatened the Nobel Committee and Norway if the prize were to be awarded to Liu, the country's first citizen to win the prize.

According to IFJ, the authorities issued a verbal order that no media was to publish information about the award. They have also prevented the media from talking to Liu's wife, Liu Xia, who was placed under house arrest upon her return home from visiting Liu in prison over the weekend.

"China has not learned from past experience that blacking out news coverage of international events is a denial of reality that just does not work," said CPJ. "Today's blackout has accomplished one thing only: reminding the world how far China will go to suppress the news."

Liu, whose activism dates back to the days of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, was the lead author of a document called Charter '08, calling for multi-party elections in Communist Party-led China. The petition led to his 11-year jail sentence.

Originally signed by more than 300 intellectuals and human rights activists - many of whom have been detained or are under heavy surveillance, Charter '08 now has more than 10,000 signatures, reports RSF.

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