A white bust (C) of the late Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and a poster of his wife Liu Xia (R) are displayed outside a shopping mall in Hong Kong on June 1, 2018, ahead of the annual candlelight vigil on June 4, which will mark the 29th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. (AFP/Anthony Wallace)
Liu Xia, widow of dissident Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, has said she felt that loving her husband was a "crime" for which she had received a "life sentence", according to an audio recording released Friday.
Liu Xia, 57, has been under de facto house arrest -- despite facing no charges -- ever since her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, in a move that angered Beijing.
Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, died last year while serving an 11-year jail sentence for "subversion", making him the first Nobel laureate to die in custody since the era of Nazi Germany.
Liu Xia faces daily restrictions on movement and surveillance, although Chinese authorities maintain she is free.
In an emotional phone call with her close friend Chinese writer Liao Yiwu last week, Liu Xia said, "they should add a line to the constitution: 'Loving Liu Xiaobo is a serious crime -- it's a life sentence'".
"They are going to keep me here to serve out Xiaobo's sentence," Liu said, between bouts of continuous sobbing.
"I want to see just how much more cruel they can get and how much more shameless they will become; I want to see how much more depraved this world is."
Liao on Friday released a recording of the call through the US-based website China Change.
The German embassy offered in April to help Liu Xia travel to Germany but the move did not take place.
Liao asked her to wait until July to see if the authorities would allow her to travel out of China.
June is a month of particular political sensitivity for the ruling Communist Party, which heightens surveillance and censorship around June 4, the day China cracked down on democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Liao said their conversation left him feeling shocked and anguished.
"The 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre is approaching, and I decided to send out this message to the world, continuing to call for her to be freed," he wrote in a letter that accompanied the recording.
"Since when did love become a crime?"
Last month, dozens of the world's leading writers and artists, from Michael Chabon to Paul Auster and Khaled Hosseini, called on China to release Liu Xia in an online campaign.
AFP reporters have tried to visit Liu's home multiple times in recent years but were blocked each time by plain-clothes men.