IFJ says Peace Prize Is Welcome Boost for Press Freedom in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today

welcomed the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese writer and dissident Liu

Xiaobo saying it is another sign that the inexorable march towards free

expression in China has become unstoppable.

"The door to human rights, democracy and press freedom in

China is open a little wider today," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President.

"Journalists both inside China and around the world will take great heart that

this recognition of a writer's independence cannot be ignored no matter how

petulant the response from China's leaders."

Liu Xiaobo was detained at the

end of 2008 just before the release of Charter 08, a manifesto for political

reform he helped to draft calling for more freedom of assembly, expression and

religion. He was prosecuted and last December he was sentenced to eleven years

in prison for inciting subversion.

The award

of the prestigious Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee has angered

China's leaders, but the IFJ says the voices calling for reform and democracy

are getting louder and cannot be ignored.

"Liu Xiaobo is a figure head for a movement that is

forcing the pace of change and we hope that China will respond by setting him

free," said Boumelha. "Intemperate actions such as reported harassment of Liu's wife, Liu Xia, will only strengthen the determination of

journalists and others to bring about change."  

The IFJ, which has been monitoring attacks on press freedom from Hong Kong over

the past two years, says China's hostile public response to the award will not

deter those who are campaigning for change both inside and outside the country.

For more information,

please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 journalists in 125 countries