Beijing, Dec. 26 (ANI): China has provoked international outcry after sentencing the country's leading dissident to 11 years of jail over subversion charges.
Liu Xiaobo, who organised a petition calling for political freedoms, stood silently in the No 1 Intermediate People's Court in Beijing to hear the judge declare him guilty of "inciting subversion of state power".
The harshest punishment for subversion charges in two decades has educeed a joint appeal from the European Union and the US.
"We continue to call on the Government of China to release him immediately and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens to peacefully express their political views," The Times quoted Gregory May, a US diplomat, as saying outside the court.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the verdict cast "an ominous shadow" over China's commitments to protect human rights.
"The conviction and extremely harsh sentencing of Liu Xiaobo mark a further severe restriction on the scope of freedom of expression in China," she said.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said: "I regret it that the Chinese Government, despite great progress in other areas, still massively restricts freedom of opinion."
Liu's chief lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told The Times: "We don't approve of the court's verdict. No matter what Liu Xiaobo writes in his articles, it's his freedom of speech, and that is a citizen's basic right."
Liu, who will mark his 54th birthday on Monday, was given no chance to respond to the sentence, but told his wife that he would appeal.
Liu's crime was to publish six articles on the internet, including on the BBC's Chinese service, and organise the Charter 08, a petition inspired by the Charter 77 dissident movement in communist Czechoslovakia. About 10,000 people have signed it.
Among the demands of Charter 08 was the abolition of the law on subversion. The petition read: "We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes." (ANI)