26 June 2017
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has received the news about the release of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo with a mixture of relief and deep worry.
The Committee is delighted to learn that Liu Xiaobo is out of prison at long last. At the same time the Committee strongly regrets that it took serious illness before Chinese authorities were willing to release him from jail. Liu Xiaobo has fought a relentless struggle in favour of democracy and human rights in China and has already paid a heavy price for his involvement. He was, essentially, convicted for exercising his freedom of speech and should never have been sentenced to jail in the first place. Chinese authorities carry a heavy responsibility if Liu Xiaobo, because of his imprisonment, has been denied necessary medical treatment. The Committee hopes that he will now be released without conditions and offered the best possible treatment for his illness, whether it be in China or abroad. Finally, the Committee would like to confirm its standing invitation to Liu Xiaobo to come to Oslo and receive the Committee's tribute. Due to his imprisonment Liu Xiaobo was unable to attend the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in 2010. His designated chair at the podium in the Oslo City Hall was left empty.
Olav Njølstad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, about the release of Liu Xiaobo.
What was your first reaction when you heard about the news?
I felt relief and sorrow. Relief because he was finally out of prison. Sorrow because it appears that it took serious illness before Chinese authorities were willing to release him from jail.
Have you or anyone in the committee been in direct contact with Liu Xiaobo?
No. And we had no pre-warning that this was about to happen.
Do you think this should be interpreted in a political way or is it merely a question of Liu Xiaobo's illness?
So far it looks more like the latter but we should not jump at any conclusion yet.
Liu Xiaobo got the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China". What effect, if any, do you think the Prize has had since it was awarded to Liu Xiaobo?
It has helped reminding the world about the lack of political and personal freedom in China.
Will Liu Xiaobo be able to collect his prize money now that he has been granted medical parole?
If a Nobel Laureate is prevented from receiving the prize money due to imprisonment, the Board of the Nobel Foundation has previously decided that the Nobel Laureate may collect the money when he or she is released. In the case of Liu Xiaobo there is no information yet regarding the possibilities for him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize medal, diploma and the prize amount awarded to him in 2010.
The announcement of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize is less than four months away. Has the work been going well? Will we have a Laureate(s) to announce on October 6th?
The work is proceeding according to plan and I am very confident that there will be something to report from Oslo that day.
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