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EU urges China to release leading dissident

Brussels–"The European Union reiterates its deep concern about the continued detention, indictment and upcoming trial of prominent human rights defender Liu Xiaobo," said a statement by the EU presidency, held by Sweden till the end of the year.

The 53-year-old writer, who was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, was arrested last December after signing Charter 08, a widely circulated petition that called for greater democracy in China.

"The EU calls on the Chinese government to unconditionally release Liu Xiaobo and to end the harassment and detention of other signatories of Charter 08," the EU presidency added.

Rights groups in China fear that after holding Liu for more than a year without trial, officials have now sped up his prosecution and will rush the case through trial during the holiday season.

They accuse Beijing of using state subversion laws to silence critics.

AFP/ Expatica