Born December 28, 1955 (1955-12-28) (age 53)
Changchun, Jilin, China
Alma mater Jilin University
Beijing Normal University
Known for Writer, political commentator, human rights activist
Liu Xiaobo (simplified Chinese: 刘晓波; traditional Chinese: 劉曉波; pinyin: Liú Xiǎobō; born December 28, 1955) is a critical intellectual and human rights activist in reform-era China. Liu has served as President of Independent Chinese PEN Center since 2003. On December 8, 2008, Liu was detained in response to his participation with Charter 08. He was formally arrested on June 23, 2009, on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power."
Early life and education
Liu was born in Changchun, Jilin in 1955. He received a B.A. in literature from Jilin University in 1982 and an M.A. from Beijing Normal University in 1984.
After graduation, Liu joined the faculty at Beijing Normal University, where he also received a Ph.D in 1988. He has been a visiting scholar at several universities outside of China, including the University of Oslo, University of Hawaii, and Columbia University.
 Human rights activities
Liu Xiaobo is a human rights activist who has called on the Chinese government to be accountable for its actions. He has been detained, arrested, and sentenced repeatedly for his peaceful political activities, including participation in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
In October 1996, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to three years in a re-education-through-labor camp on charges of "spreading rumors and libel" and "disturbing public order" for criticizing the Communist Party of China. In 2007, he was briefly detained and questioned about articles he wrote for Internet sites outside China in order to embarrass the Beijing Government.
Liu's human rights work has received international recognition. In 2004, Reporters Without Borders honored Liu's human rights work, awarding him the Fondation de France Prize as a defender of press freedom.
Charter 08 and arrest
Liu Xiaobo, along with more than three hundred Chinese citizens, signed Charter 08, a manifesto released on the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 2009), written in the style of the Czechoslovakian Charter 77 calling for greater freedom of expression, human rights, and for free elections. As of May 2009, the Charter has collected over 8,600 signatures from Chinese of various walks of life.
Late in the evening of December 8, 2008, two days before the official release of the Charter, Liu Xiaobo was taken away from his home by police. Another scholar and Charter 08 signatory, Zhang Zuhua, was also taken away by police at that time. According to Zhang, the two were detained on suspicion of gathering signatures to the Charter. While Liu was detained, he was not allowed to meet with his lawyer or family, though he was allowed to eat lunch with his wife, Liu Xia, and two policemen on New Years Day 2009. On June 23, 2009, the Beijing procuratorate approved Liu Xiaobo's arrest on charges of "suspicion of inciting subversion of state power," a crime under article 105 of China's Criminal Law. In a Xinhua news release announcing Liu's arrest, the Beijing Public Security Bureau alleged that Liu had incited the subversion of state power and the overturn of the socialist system through methods such as spreading rumors and slander, citing almost verbatim Article 105; the Beijing PSB also noted that Liu had "fully confessed."
Following Liu's detention, a number of individuals, states, and organizations across the world called for his release. On December 11, 2008, the U.S. Department of State called for Liu's release; on December 22, 2008, a consortium of scholars, writers, lawyers, and human rights advocates called for Liu's release in an open letter; and on January 21, 2009, 300 international writers, including Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Ha Jin, and June Chang, called for Liu's release in a statement put out through PEN. In March 2009 Liu Xiaobo was awarded with Homo Homini Award by One World Film Festival, organized by the People in Need foundation, for promoting freedom of speech, democratic principles and human rights.
As a political commentator and activist, Liu has offended a number of people. An oft-mentioned quote is from a 1988 interview with Hong Kong's Liberation Monthly (now known as Open Magazine) in which Liu said in response to a question on what it would take for China to realize a true historical transformation, "[It would take] 300 years of colonialism. In 100 years of colonialism, Hong Kong has changed to what we see today. With China being so big, of course it would take 300 years of colonialism for it to be able to change to how Hong Kong is today. I have my doubts as to whether 300 years would be enough." Liu later admitted that the response was extemporaneous and used as evidence against him, commenting that, "even today [in 2006], patriotic 'angry youth' still frequently use these words to paint me with 'treason.'"