China's aggressive crackdown ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo stepped up a notch last night with the removal of access to key foreign news sites in an attempt to starve the country of news on Liu Xiaobo's award.
The BBC and CNN were among the sites which were blocked by the Chinese authorities. This follows the blackout of the same outlets and the French satellite channel TV5 when the prize was announced two months ago.
The BBC said that its website had not been so comprehensively censored since the Beijing Olympics, held in 2008.
Despite the efforts at robbing the award of its impact, momentum continued to swell behind the prize yesterday. About 100 campaigners marched on the Chinese embassy in Oslo, chanting "Freedom to Liu! Freedom for China!" and attempting to deliver a petition carrying more than 100,000 signatures, before police diverted them from the embassy gates.
And the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi added her support to Mr Liu, recalling the effect the award had on the democracy movement there. "The people ruling Burma were not very pleased," she told the BBC.