Liu Xia, the widow of China's Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, left Beijing for Germany on Tuesday morning after years of being detained without legal cause, her family told Kyodo News, amid growing worldwide attention to her plight.
While precise details of Liu's flight out of China are unknown, the only Finnair flight that left Beijing Capital International Airport bound for Berlin on Tuesday morning was Flight AY86, which took off at 10.55am, according to the airport's website.
"Liu Xia never gave up on her wrongfully imprisoned late husband, and for this she was cruelly punished". Her brother, Liu Hui, posted on WeChat that his sister had flown to Europe to "start her new life".
"Neither her mental condition nor her physical condition are ideal. I hope from now on her life is peaceful and happy".
"Our parents and Xiaobo entrusted [her] to me, now that she has safely left, I'm very emotional", he said. "I am very excited when my sister left safely", he said.
After his death, his wife Liu Xia-who was with him in the hospital in his last days-disappeared back into the state of house arrest she'd lived in for years.
However, Poon voiced concern for Liu Xia's brother Liu Hui who is still in China and said she "might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother's safety". "China hopes to team up with Germany", Mr Lau said.
"Now China has made use of an opportunity to do Germany a favour so as to strengthen the Sino-German relationship".
However, some anxious she may not feel safe to speak about her life in China over the past decade, since her brother still lives in Beijing.
Liu Xia was held under illegal house arrest since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. She was closely monitored by state security agents and could only be reached by her closest friends by phone in limited circumstances.
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"This is not a diplomatic issue", she said.
He was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment on charges of inciting subversion of state power.
Merkel has spoken out frequently on Chinese human rights abuses and is believed to have pushed for Liu's release during her May visit to Beijing, where she met the wives of detained human rights lawyers.
Friends say Liu Xia has expressed a preference for going to Germany, where she has a circle of friends from China's dissident and literary circles.
Germany, which is also home to dissident artist Ai Weiwei, has been outspoken on rights in China.
Memorial events to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death on Friday are planned in cities around the world including Hong Kong, Taipei and Berlin.
But China Human Rights Defenders researcher Frances Eve said Liu's release was an "easy win" for China.
China claimed that Liu Xia's freedom of movement was not impeded.
"Now, the harassment of Liu Xia's family who remain in China must end too".
Western diplomats and rights groups had earlier hoped to be able to get Liu Hui out of China as well.