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Updated: November 9, 2010 17:02 IST

China bars lawyer from attending London conference

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A protester holds a portrait of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo during a rally against the Chinese government in Tokyo on November 6, 2010. File photo: AP.
A protester holds a portrait of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo during a rally against the Chinese government in Tokyo on November 6, 2010. File photo: AP.

A Chinese lawyer, representing jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, says he has been prevented from leaving the country.

A renowned Chinese human rights lawyer whose firm is representing imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo said he was blocked by Beijing airport police from boarding a flight on Tuesday to attend a conference in London.

Mo Shaoping said officers gave only vague reasons for their actions, although it comes amid a new wave of repression against independent activists sparked by the awarding of the Peace Prize to Liu.

Mr. Liu’s wife and dozens of dissident colleagues have been placed under house arrest or intense monitoring in an attempt to prevent them from attending the December 10 award ceremony in Norway.

Mr. Mo said he was stopped along with Hong Kong University law professor He Weifang.

“We were taken to an office by two police and were told that we had been restricted from going abroad because it might harm state security,” Mr. Mo said. The officers showed their police badges but issued no formal papers, he said.

“It’s absurd to stop us with a charge like this and it’s a violation of people’s basic human rights,” Mr. Mo said.

China’s law governing a citizen’s right to enter and exit the country contains a provision allowing officers to bar exit in cases involving “threats to national security or serious damage to national interests.”

Mr. Mo said he had no intention of attending the Nobel ceremony, but had merely planned to make a previously scheduled presentation on the independence of lawyers at a conference sponsored by the International Bar Association.

“The trip was fixed a few months ago and has nothing to do with the incident of the Nobel Peace Prize. We were supposed to come back on November 15,” Mr. Mo said.

Unable to leave, Mr. Mo said he would file suit against the officers.

Mr. Mo has for years been one of mainland China’s best known human rights lawyers, but has largely managed to avoid the fate of colleagues who have been disbarred, arrested, or harassed as punishment for their activism.

Many of those have come under even greater pressure following the awarding of the Nobel to Liu last month, a move met with an indignant response from the authorities.

Mr. Liu, 54, is serving an 11—year sentence on subversion charges brought after he co—authored a bold call for sweeping changes to the one—party communist political system known as Charter 08. Mr. Mo is one of the signatories to the charter and consequently barred by authorities from representing Mr. Liu directly.

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