Nobel committee cool to Walesa offer

Monday, November 22, 2010

WARSAW/OSLO - The Nobel committee Monday was cool to an offer by former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Liu Xiaobo, since the Chinese dissident and his family will be unable to attend the December award ceremony in Oslo.

“It’s a possibility,” Walesa told Polish Radio, adding he was in “very serious” talks about the issue.

In Oslo, Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committe, said Walesa’s offer was not on the cards.

“The medal, diploma and (prize) money will not be in the way here while we are waiting for the rightful owner (to come),” Lundestad told Norwegian news agency NTB, indicating the committee is willing to wait as long as it takes for Liu or a close relative to pick up the award.

The Nobel Committee has earlier said it would only allow a family member to accept the prize on behalf of the Peace Prize laureate.

Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December for his part in writing the Charter ‘08 for democratic reform. His wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest in Beijing and the laureate’s brothers are also unable to travel to Norway for the ceremony.

Walesa was himself unable to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, which he earned for his work in leading protests on Poland’s Baltic coast against the communist regime.

Walesa was afraid if he left Poland, the Communist authorities would not allow him to return. His wife Danuta picked up the prize on behalf of Walesa.

Walesa said picking up Liu’s prize would be “recompense” for not being able to attend his own award ceremony in 1983.

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