France calls on China to free dissident Nobel laureate

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France on Friday urged China to free imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo, after he won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign for human rights.

Beijing authorities convicted 54-year-old reformist Liu of subversion last year and jailed him for 11 years. On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel committee gave him its most prestigious award.

France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was among the first to hail the panel's choice, declaring: "This decision embodies the defence of human rights everywhere in the world."

"France, like the European Union, expressed its concern after his arrest and has called for him to be released on a number of occasions. She repeats that call," Kouchner said in a statement from his office.

China has yet to formally react to the award, but its Communist government was expected to be infuriated by the Nobel committee's endorsement of Liu's battle for political reform and freedom of expression.

© 2010 AFP

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