A group of prominent international figures, all former Nobel Peace Prize winners, have called upon the Chinese government to release the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo from jail and have offered to mediate negotiations to do so.
On Friday, President Barack Obama also said Liu stands for universal human values and should be released from prison as soon as possible, the Associated Press reports.
In a press release from the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, the group "reaffirm(ed) their hope for a broader extension of human freedoms in China."
Members of the Nobel Peace Laureates group include: former South African President F.W. De Klerk; American teacher Jody Williams; Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi; Irish peace activists Mariead Maguire and Betty Williams; Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel; Northern Ireland politician John Hume; and the Nobel Organization IPPNW.
The Nobel group signed a pledge that stated: "We commend the People's Republic of China for the expansion of economic freedom that has vastly improved the lives of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens. We believe that the broader extension of human freedoms would further contribute to the success and happiness of the Chinese people. We would accordingly appreciate the opportunity of engaging with the Government of the People's Republic of China to discuss the status of Liu Xiaobo and to establish what steps might be taken to facilitate his early release from detention."
Liu's wife is being kept under house arrest. Since no one close to him will be able to accept his prize on Friday in Oslo, it won't be handed out at the Nobel ceremony, the AP reports.
Mr. Obama says he regrets that Liu and his wife are being denied the ability to attend the ceremony as he and first lady Michelle Obama did when he won the peace prize last year, the AP reports. Mr. Obama added: "Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was."