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Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Appeal by China dissident Liu Xiaobo rejected

Liu Xiaobo (left) and his wife Liu Xia in Beijing in October 2002
Liu Xiaobo (left) co-wrote an appeal for expanded political freedoms

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has had his appeal against an 11-year prison sentence rejected by a court in Beijing, his lawyer has said.

Liu was convicted six weeks ago on charges of subversion, to widespread international condemnation.

The US, the EU and several European countries criticised the ruling and called for Liu's immediate release.

In 2008, Liu co-wrote a direct appeal to Chinese authorities calling for expanded political freedoms.

The dissident's wife, Liu Xia, said he had not been allowed to speak during the trial.

"We knew this would be the decision," she told Reuters.

Before the trial she had said she had little hope of a reprieve, saying: "If you're not that hopeful, then you can't be disappointed."

Germany said the verdict showed China was "scared of its own people" while US hit out at what it called the "persecution" of individuals for expressing their political views, saying it was inconsistent with globally recognised human rights standards.

But China dismissed international criticism as interference in its domestic affairs.

At a regular news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said there were "no dissident in China".

"We only manage our affairs according to the law, and so we only have a difference between criminals and non-criminals," he said.

'Persecution'

Liu, 54, was previously jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, a conviction which also sparked international condemnation.

People are treated for injuries in Hong Kong, 25 December
Hong Kong people protested at the initial conviction of Liu Xiaobo

Diplomats from 17 countries were outside the court when the appeal was rejected.

Germany said Beijing had "unfortunately shown itself again to be unwilling to respect human rights".

"Not only is this a missed opportunity for China, it also shows how much the communist leadership is scared of its own people," said Guenter Nook, Germany's representative for human rights.

US ambassador Jon Huntsman, in a statement after the appeal ruling, said Washington lamented what he called the "persecution" of citizens expressing their political views.

"We are disappointed by the Chinese government's decision to uphold Liu Xiaobo's sentence of 11 years in prison on the charge of 'inciting subversion of state power'," Mr Huntsman said.

"We believe that he should not have been sentenced in the first place and should be released immediately," he added.

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

One day, even if he's not regarded as a hero, he'll be thought of as a very good citizen
Liu Xia

Simon Sharpe, an official from the European Union delegation in China, told reporters at the courthouse that the EU also called for Liu's unconditional release.

Liu has been in jail since 2008, after being arrested for writing a petition known as Charter 08.

It called for greater freedoms and democratic reforms in China, including an end to one-party rule.

The former university professor is a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.

More than 300 international writers, including Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco and Margaret Atwood, have called for his release.

Liu is the only person to have been arrested for organising the Charter 08 appeal, but others who signed it have reportedly been harassed.



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