Obama Urges China to Free Nobel Laureate Liu

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President Barack Obama urged China on Friday to free Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo.

For the first time in 74 years, the award was not personally presented to its recipient since Liu is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence in the communist country.

"I regret that Mr. Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony that Michelle and I attended last year," Obama said in a statement.

"The values he espouses are universal.  His struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible," the president added.
    
The 54-year-old literary critic was arrested last Christmas for protesting China's human rights violations and calling for political change.
     
Chinese authorities have been critical of the Nobel Committee's decision to bestow the prestigious award on 54-year-old literary critic, viewing the move as an attack on China's political and legal system.

They have asked other countries to boycott the event and even placed Liu's supporters, including his wife, under house arrest to prevent anyone from picking up his prize.    

But the U.S. has remained firm in its position that human rights should be universal.

"We have made our position very clear to the Chinese government," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "The U.S. will be represented at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony although the recipient and his wife will not be permitted to travel."

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