China suspends family visits for Nobel prize-winner Liu Xiaobo

The Chinese prison where Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo is held has suspended visits by his family, and his wife remains under house arrest a week after the award ceremony, a human rights group has said.

Such new restrictions, if confirmed, would represent another punishment for Liu and his family by Chinese authorities furious at the political prisoner being awarded the prize. Any suspension of visits also would contradict Chinese laws allowing all prisoners one visit a month.

Liu's brother, Liu Xiaoguang, told the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy that the Jinzhou prison formally notified the family of the suspension recently. The rights centre announced it on the family's behalf.

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China's ruling Communist Party reacted angrily at the Nobel award for a man it considers a common criminal. Authorities kept dozens of Liu supporters from leaving the country to attend the ceremony, put others under temporary house arrest and lobbied other governments not to attend.

Liu's absence from the prize ceremony on 10 December in Oslo, Norway, was marked by an empty chair.