Imprisoned Nobel Laureate Might Not Accept Parole

The New York Times’ Didi Kirsten Tatlow discusses the prospects for imprisoned Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo’s release when he becomes eligible for parole this year. Reuters reported this month that some in government have been pushing for parole to be granted, but that others fear he would become a weapon for “hostile forces.” Another question is whether Liu would even accept limited freedom on the terms offered:

“In China, if you admit guilt, then you can apply for parole and you may get out,” said one lawyer familiar with Mr. Liu’s situation. “That’s a principle here. It’s how things work.” The lawyer asked not to be named for fear of retribution for commenting on such a sensitive political case shortly before the June 4 anniversary.

Would Mr. Liu “admit guilt,” or “认罪” (renzui), as it is known in Chinese?

“Boil a rock. When the rock softens, Liu will be ready to ‘认罪,” wrote Perry Link, who co-edited “No Enemies, No Hatred,” a collection of Mr. Liu’s essays and poems published in 2012. Mr. Link used the Chinese characters for “admit guilt” in the email, adding:

He might, though, play language games. He has done this in the past. When prosecutors found his counterrevolutionary articles on the Internet and asked him to admit his crimes, he answered “Yes, I admit that I wrote those articles.” [Source]

Tatlow’s report offers some reassurance regarding Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, who was hospitalized in February after a reportedly severe decline in her physical and mental health during the three years of her extralegal house arrest. Editor Tienchi Martin-Liao, who speaks with her regularly, said that “she is quite O.K. and even sometimes cheerful. We are not that worried.”