A small group of Chinese dissidents forced their way past security guards last week to visit the detained wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and deliver a message of support, one of the dissidents said on Monday.
Liu, a veteran dissident involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests crushed by the Chinese army, won the prize in 2010. He was jailed the year before and is serving an 11-year sentence.
His wife Liu Xia is under house arrest. She is rarely allowed out and is almost never allowed to receive visitors.
Family friend and fellow dissident Hu Jia said he and a small group barged past guards at the apartment in Beijing's western suburbs on Friday - Liu Xiaobo's birthday - to be greeted by a tearful and surprised Liu Xia.
"I feel it is our right as Chinese citizens to go and see her,'' Hu told Reuters. "I told her about the 134 Nobel laureates who have called on the government to release her and her husband. She was overjoyed to hear about this, but she also felt a sense of hopelessness that the government would pay no attention,'' he added. "All I could say was that she should not give up hope.''
Hu said the visit lasted just a few minutes, and that Liu Xia expressed a fear the government would take retribution against her for the meeting. He later uploaded a video of the visit to YouTube.
The Nobel laureates, including the Dalai Lama and author Toni Morrison, wrote to Communist Party chief Xi Jinping earlier this month, urging him to release Liu and his wife.
China says Liu is a criminal and should be treated as such, dismissing criticism of the case as unwarranted interference in its internal affairs. Liu's wife has not been convicted of any crime despite being under house arrest.