Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was announced Friday as the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize [press release], "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." Liu has been one of China's most prominent dissidents. He spent two years in prison following the Tiananmen Square [BBC backgrounder] uprising, has long challenged China's one-party rule and co-authored Charter 08 [text], a petition calling for political reforms in the country. He is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence [JURIST report] in China for inciting subversion. US President Barack Obama, last year's award recipient, praised the Nobel Committee's decision and called on China to release Liu [statement]:
By granting the prize to Mr. Liu, the Nobel Committee has chosen someone who has been an eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and non-violent means, including his support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. ... We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible.Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website, in Chinese] spokesperson Jiang Yu denounced the decision [press release, in Chinese], calling it "contrary to the purpose of the Nobel Prize." Chinese authorities have censored the announcement [CNN report], blocking internet searches and international broadcasts about it and even turning off phones of people who text messaged the news.
In February, a Chinese appeals court upheld [JURIST report] Liu's 11-year prison sentence despite calls for his release from US and EU officials. Liu was tried [JURIST report] in December on subversion charges in a trial that lasted only two hours and was closed to foreign diplomats. Liu was formally arrested in June and charged [JURIST reports] in December, but he has been in detention since December 2008, shortly before the petition's release. In June 2009, rights groups marked the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 uprising in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, calling for the government to investigate the incident [JURIST report] and implement changes called for by Charter 08.