Chinese dissident’s Nobel prize money to be reserved

Friday, December 3, 2010

STOCKHOLM - Jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s prize money will be set aside in his name, the head of the Nobel Foundation announced Friday, a week before the formal Nobel award ceremony.

Liu is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion and is not allowed to leave China to attend the award ceremony in Oslo Dec 10.

“Unfortunately it is not the first time in the history (of the Nobels) it happens,” said Nobel Foundation head Michael Sohlman.

Previous similar situations have included peace laureates Andrei Sakharov of Russia and Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, as well as Russian literature laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, he said.

In the event a laureate actually declines the award, the prize money is returned to the foundation, Sohlman explained.

Sohlman said China’s attempts to urge other countries to boycott the Oslo ceremony were “unheard of”.

The foundation was set up to manage the assets left by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, who first endowed the prizes, this year worth 10 million kronor (about $1.5 million).

The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, while the awards for science, literature and economics are awarded in Stockholm.

The ceremonies are traditionally held Dec 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death. In Stockholm over 1,200 guests are expected for the banquet held in honour of the laureates at Stockholm City Hall.

This year’s laureates were due to arrive over the weekend and will give lectures and attend various functions prior to the award ceremony.

Due to ill-heath, Robert Edwards of Britain who won the medicine prize for the development of in vitro fertilization will not travel to Stockholm, Sohlman said.

Meanwhile, Sohlman defended the decision not to invite the leader of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, to the banquet.

Akesson’s party’s ideology “clearly clashes” with Nobel’s intent, Sohlman said, citing Nobel’s final will that states that the awards for peace, literature and science should be given to those who best deserve it, regardless of nationality.

The leaders of the seven other parties are welcome at the banquet, Sohlman said.

Akesson’s party won 20 seats in the 349-seat parliament in September, but the other parties have said that they will not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats.

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