Jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has done nothing wrong and Beijing must release him, the head of the Nobel jury said on Friday at a ceremony in honour of the absent peace prize laureate.
"Liu has only exercised his civil rights. He has not done anything wrong. He must be released," Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.
Liu, 54, is an author and former professor who was at the forefront of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
He was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring "Charter 08", a manifesto that spread quickly on the Internet calling for political reform and greater rights in China.
Standing on a flower-decked podium in the Oslo city hall next to an empty chair and a large portrait of a smiling Liu, Jagland pointed out that China's constitution gives its citizens the right to "freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."
He also pointed out how "in the past 100 to 150 years, human rights and democracy have gained an ever-stronger position in the world."
Therefore, "the human rights activists in China are defenders of the international order and the main trends in the global community. Viewed in that light, they are thus not dissidents, but representatives of the main lines of development in today's world," he said.
Liu's "views will in the long run strengthen China," Jagland insisted.