The Associated Press’ Isolda Morillo reports that the brother of Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, was arrested earlier this year. Liu Hui has been charged with fraud, but supporters claim that his prosecution is the latest attack in a long campaign against the family.
Beijing police detained Liu Hui on Jan. 31, just before the Lunar New Year and a planned family reunion, and formally charged him two weeks ago over a real estate dispute, lawyer Mo Shaoping said Thursday. He said the criminal charges were unwarranted in a business dispute that has since been resolved.
Liu Hui’s arrest is the latest blow to the family and, Mo said, is particularly painful for his sister, Liu Xia, the wife of democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo. He was imprisoned in late 2008, and ever since he was awarded the Nobel prize two-and-a-half years ago, Liu Xia has been under house arrest. Isolated in an apartment with no phone or Internet, she appears emotionally fragile, allowed only weekly visits with family members and a monthly visit to her husband in prison.
[…] Pu [Zhiqiang], the lawyer and Liu family friend, said arresting and prosecuting Liu Hui in an ordinary business dispute fits a pattern of selectively using the law to harass activists and their families. The artist and prominent government critic Ai Weiwei has faced tax charges, for example, rather than a direct attack against his activism. “State security is increasingly using selective enforcement of the law,” Pu said.
Morillo suggests that Liu’s prosecution may have been prompted by two incidents in December, in which first an AP team and then a group of activists managed to break through the security cordon around his sister’s apartment.