EU heads expressed their condolences on the passing of Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the most prominent human rights defenders in China, urging the Chinese authorities to free political prisoners.

European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk, advise that the Chinese authorities “allow his wife, Ms Liu Xia, and his family to bury Liu Xiaobo at a place and in a manner of their choosing, and to allow them to grieve in peace.”

“We call on the authorities to remove all restrictions on the movement and communications of his family members and allow Ms Liu Xia and her brother Mr Liu Hui to leave China, if they wish to do so,” writes the joint statement of the two EU chiefs. The statement also writes, “we reiterate the European Union’s call for all prisoners of conscience in China to be released.”

“Liu Xiaobo was one of the authors of Charter 08, calling for peaceful democratic reform and rule of law in China. His personal intervention during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives,” say Juncker and Tusk. “We send our most sincere condolences and respect to his wife, Ms Liu Xia, his family and friends,” add the EU leaders.