Imprisoned Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Receives Nobel Peace Prize in Absentia

This fact (Xiaobo's imprisonment) alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate.”

— Thorbjoern Jagland, Nobel Committee Chairman

OSLO, Norway – Clapping solemnly, dignitaries in Norway celebrated this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, with an empty chair.

Friday's ceremony was the first time in 74 years the prestigious $1.4 million award was not handed over, because Liu is serving an 11-year sentence in China on subversion charges for urging sweeping changes to Beijing's one-party communist political system.

China was infuriated when the 54-year-old literary critic won, describing the award as an attack on its political and legal system. Authorities have placed Liu's supporters, including his wife Liu Xia, under house arrest to prevent anyone from picking up his prize.

Defying outrage from China, the Nobel Committee held a ceremony Friday in the Norwegian capital of Oslo to honor jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, recipient of this year's Nobel Peace prize.

As dignitaries from around the world stood and clapped, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland gently placed the Nobel diploma on the empty chair where Liu would have sat.

In a speech at the ceremony, Jagland noted Liu's imprisonment and regretted that he is not present to receive the award. He said "this fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate."