Nobel: France urges release of all jailed rights activists

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France called for the release of all jailed human rights defenders around the world including Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was on Friday awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in his absence.

"I renew France's call, on the day that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, for the freeing of all those who around the world are deprived of liberty for having defended human rights," Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said.

Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said that Alliot-Marie, who was speaking on the occasion of international Human Rights Day, was calling for each country to respect fundamental freedoms.

Asked about Liu, Valero recalled that France and the European Union "have called several times for him to be freed and reiterate that call." Human rights in China are dealt with "in the framework of Euro-Chinese rights dialogue."

Earlier in Oslo the head of the Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, placed the Peace Prize diploma and gold medal on an empty chair representing Liu at the award ceremony.

Liu, 54, is an author and former professor who was at the forefront of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

He was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring "Charter 08", a manifesto that spread quickly on the Internet calling for political reform and greater rights in China.

© 2010 AFP

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