U.N. rights chief calls on China to release Liu

GENEVA Thu Dec 9, 2010 11:32am EST

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GENEVA (Reuters) - The top United Nations human rights official Thursday called on China to release jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo and voiced concern that authorities had curtailed the movement of 120 people, including his wife.

"It is my view that the case should be reviewed and Liu Xiaobo should be released as soon as possible," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a news conference.

"I hope that the Chinese authorities will come to recognize the positive contribution that peaceful advocates like Liu Xiaobo can make to China's development," she added.

Pillay also voiced dismay that China had clamped down on "an ever-widening circle of associates" of Liu Xiabo, including his wife Liu Xia and other activists and critics.

At least 20 activists had been arrested in recent weeks and more than 120 people placed under house arrest or travel restrictions, measures which contravened Chinese law, she said.

"I am engaged in a constructive dialogue with the government of China on all these matters," added Pillay.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)

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