Chinese Court Rejects Dissident’s Appeal of 11-Year Sentence

A Chinese appeals court has upheld an 11-year prison sentence for prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo (shahw-boh), who has convicted of subversion.

China’s High Court Thursday rejected Liu Xiaobo’s appeal to change an 11-year jail sentence, which was handed down on December 25.

The 54-year-old writer was convicted of subversion for helping organize a manifesto called “Charter 08,” which calls for sweeping civil and political reforms. He was detained in December 2008, shortly before the document was released on-line.

The U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman immediately issued a statement expressing Washington’s disappointment in the decision. The statement, read by Embassy spokesman Richard Buangan, called on the government to release Liu immediately and allow Chinese citizens to peacefully express their political views.

“Persecution of individuals for the peaceful expression of political views is inconsistent with internationally recognized norms of human rights,” he said.

The European Union also issued a statement calling for Liu’s release and an end to harassment and detention of many of the thousands of Chinese who signed Charter 08.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu on Thursday said judicial authorities have already made their decision.

Ma says he cannot comment on the details of Liu’s case. But he says China’s judicial activities are internal affairs that, in his words, “brook no infringement and interference.”

Liu was one of the founders of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, a branch of International PEN, which is a network of organizations that speak out for literary freedom around the world.

On the last day of 2009, the PEN American Center held a rally in New York to call for Liu’s release.

At that rally, American writer E.L. Doctorow strongly condemned the imprisonment.

“China supposes to lead the world into the future as superpower in the 21st century, but when it jails its people for their thought, it is mired in the past, with the ghosts of emperors and dictators and kings, and along with military thugs and theocracies, like Iran’s, that rigs its elections and shoots down its people in the street,” said Doctorow.

Doctorow said he and other supporters feel Liu is not working to subvert or slander the government, but is instead calling on China to realize the promise of its constitution.

Liu is among several Chinese dissidents whose names have been mentioned this year as nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. Public supporters for his nomination include lawmakers from both the United States and the Czech Republic.


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