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Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, has been admitted to a Beijing hospital after police refused to allow her to seek medical help overseas. Photo: AP

Liu Xia, wife of China’s jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, hospitalised

Liu Xia has been under effective house arrest since her husband Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010

Liu Xiaobo

The wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has been admitted to a Beijing hospital after police refused to let her seek medical help overseas, a family friend said yesterday.

Liu Xia, who has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, suffers from heart problems, possibly severe depression, and other ailments made worse from being under guard, her friends say.

She was earlier admitted to another hospital under police guard, but the hospital told her to leave after a day without giving a reason, Mo Shaoping, a prominent human rights lawyer and a close family friend, said.

Liu Xia was admitted to the second hospital on Tuesday but it is unclear how long she will remain there because her family has been told by police not to disclose details about her condition and whereabouts, Mo said.

"Her family had proposed seeking medical treatment overseas, but the police didn't approve it," Mo said. It was then that her family was told to seek treatment for her in Beijing.

In December, Liu Xia's friends said she refused to seek medical help because she was afraid of further punishment.

Although she has not been convicted of any crime, Liu Xia is rarely allowed out of her home, except for occasional visits to her husband and family. She is almost never permitted visitors.

Ye Du, a writer and a friend, said Liu told him of her heart problems when they spoke recently by telephone.

“Last month, she said her heart was not feeling too good and she was sent to the hospital, where they told her that her heart was lacking blood,” Ye said.

Ye confirmed Liu’s family had asked to seek medical help for her overseas, possibly in Europe, but police had rejected the request.

“The environment that she’s been placed in, having been put under house arrest for so many years, is the main reason (for her worsening health), and they thought that going overseas was the only way they could fully guarantee that she will have good treatment,” Ye said.

Another friend, Ma Shaofeng, said Liu had told him when they spoke a week ago she had suffered a heart attack.

The United States and the European Union have repeatedly urged China to let Liu Xia move freely again.

Liu Xiaobo, a veteran dissident involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests crushed by the Chinese army, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for organising a petition urging the overthrow of one-party rule.

Liu Xia filed an extraordinary appeal for her husband’s retrial last month, a move that could renew the focus on China’s human rights record.

The Chinese government says that Liu Xiaobo is a common criminal and has rejected as unwarranted interference any criticism of its handling of the case by foreign governments.

Watch: Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, reads poems in a secret video

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Jailed Nobel laureate's wife in hospital