China reiterates that Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo is a criminal, rights of citizens are protected

China's Foreign Ministry has reiterated that locked-up 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal.

This year's Nobel literature winner Mo Yan evaded questions about his fellow countryman Liu at a news conference in Stockholm on Thursday.

Asked Friday whether the Chinese government instructed Mo not to talk about Liu, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "I want to point out that Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to imprisonment by China's judicial authorities for violating laws."

Hong said he was not aware that Liu Xia, the wife of Liu Xiaobo, has been under house arrest for two years following her husband's Nobel win.

He said that the "legitimate rights of citizens are protected by the rule of law."