Liu Xiaobo never thought of being arrested: undisclosed videos of Liu’s wife

The wife of the late Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is under home arrest in China


Liu Xiaobo had never thought of being arrested because of ‘Charter 08’, according to the wife of the Nobel Peace laureate in an undisclosed interview in 2009.

In several undisclosed footage obtained by FactWire, Liu Xia said the arrest was executed illegally, and it ‘never came into Liu’s mind’ that he himself would be arrested because of a petition known as ‘Charter 08’ he helped draft.

Liu’s face was ‘grey’ at the time when he was ‘under residential surveillance’, according to Liu Xia, who described him as ‘a tiger trapped in a cage’.

The Nobel laureate’s wife was under long-term house arrest after Liu was awarded with the Peace Prize. She suffered from depression in recent years.

The footages acquired by FactWire included a full interview with Liu Xia before her house arrest, as well as several videos filmed during the arrest, which feature Liu Xia speaking to friends under her apartment.

The interview was filmed in February 2009, three months after Liu’s detention for drafting ‘Charter 08’, and was provided by James.H, a good friend of the couple. Roughly an hour long, Liu Xia revealed the details of Liu’s arrest on 8 December 2008, pointing that only one visit was allowed three months after his arrest.

The other videos were filmed in December 2012 and February 2013 respectively while Liu was under house arrest, who gave soft and short answers by the window to her friends under her apartment.

Liu Xia said in the interview that her husband did not talk too much about ‘Charter 08’, not to mention that being arrested for it never crossed his mind. She herself however was anxious for sensing something bad about to happen, but was called ‘crazy’ by Liu.

Liu Xia also described the arrest made by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau on 8 December 2008, recalling a knock on the door at 11pm by the police.

‘They took something, with no conviction (written on it). I was not given anything, and they let Xiaobo sign on it. Xiaobo didn’t sign it and argued with them. Xiaobo said it is because they didn’t write down the charges,’ said Liu Xia.

Liu Xia emphasized that ‘nothing was written’ on the document for detainment, and while the law states that the family member should be given a copy of the document, she received nothing. Liu Xia further stated that her husband was under ‘residential surveillance’ for almost three months, but she received no written notice from the authorities, contrary to official regulations.

‘The law states that the person being monitored in his or her residence could live together with family members, and then the lawyer could see his client without going through any procedures. The result is we have none of these now,’ she added.


Upon Liu’s arrest, the couple only met once on 1 January 2009. ‘Xiaobo mentioned it when he was inside, and I mentioned it as well. Perhaps they let us meet in order to ease the public opinion and spread some news outside,’ said Liu Xia. However, when they mentioned about the next meeting, a branch of the Public Security Bureau said there were ‘no arrangements from the above’.

Liu’s house wasn’t big, according to Liu Xia. There was a washroom, and the windows were opened by someone everyday for ventilation. ‘When I met him I saw a grey face. He could not see the sun from day to night, and was kept in a small house. He was not allowed to go out.’

Liu Xia then pointed out that her husband got ‘thinner’, that he couldn’t sleep at first, and was then brought to trial in the morning everyday.

‘During that time he was brought to trial everyday, and he was not allowed to read, and there were no televisions. He was not allowed to leave his room, so he walked in furious speed around the house each day for three hours…just like a tiger trapped in a cage, spins,’ she said.

The other footages were filmed on 22, 25 and 28 December 2012 and 24 February 2013, after Liu Xia’s house arrest, at her apartment on South Yuyuantan Road in the Haidian District of Beijing.

In three of the videos, Liu Xia spoke to her friends under her apartment, each conversation lasting around three to five minutes long. In the footage filmed on December 22, Liu Xia waved at her friends by the window, and when asked to go down and open the door, she replied ‘there’s no way you can enter…they are still here’. She then said she was ‘happy’ to see her friends, saying that ‘in my heart, I am very satisfied’.

In the footage filmed on December 25, when Liu Xia’s friends told her to tell Liu that there was an open letter of appeal in the mainland and 134 Nobel laureates called for his release, Liu Xia said ‘he knows nothing’, that ‘I could tell him nothing (during the meeting), they were monitoring him’. She could not even relay greeting messages from friends.


On 24 February 2013 during Lantern Festival, Liu Xia was emotional when she talked to her friends, and was clearly heard to be crying in the footage. She told her friends that she was ‘disturbed’, that her ‘whole family has to go through unimaginable bad luck’, and stressed multiple times that her friends could not imagine her situation. Despite concerns expressed by many people outside, it is of ‘no use, all concerns are of no use,’ she said.

The footage on December 28 was publicized on the internet at the end of December 2012, featuring Xu Youyu and Hu Jia surpassing security and going into Liu Xia’s apartment. The meeting lasted for about three minutes. Liu Xia was emotional, and whispered softly in Xu’s ear as they talked, so their conversation could not be heard.

Since the house arrest in October 2010, Liu Xia lost the freedom to contact with the outside world. Her brother Liu Hui was arrested in January 2013, and was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment on charges of fraud in June in the same year. Liu Xia, who was at the courthouse, described it as a ‘political persecution’. Rumors of Liu Xia having depression were then spreaded.

Two letters written by Liu Xia herself were disclosed after Liu Xiaobo’s recent release on granted medical parole for being diagnosed with liver cancer. In the letters, she said: ‘my body and mental strength reached its limit, and my depression has not been relieved…I hope to escape…I did not imagine that Xiaobo would agree to leave with me and Liu Hui.’ The letters were publicized by Germany-based writer and activist Liao Yiwu and Mirror Media Group founder Ho Pin.

Related stories