The ashes of deceased Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo were scattered Saturday in the ocean, a family member said.
Chinese authorities likely feared a grave or burial site of Liu becoming an influential monument for pro-democracy movements in the future. Liu's family members were hoping to bring the ashes to his home in Beijing.
The sea burial was disclosed by Liu's brother, Liu Xiaoguang, during a press conference in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, where the 61-year-old famed dissident died Thursday of multiple organ failure related to liver cancer.
The brother did not take any questions at the press conference, which was not attended by Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia.
The body of the Nobel laureate, who was awarded the peace prize in 2010 while behind bars, was cremated earlier in the day after a farewell service attended by the widow and several other family members, according to local authorities.
As international attention now shifts to whether Liu Xia will be given freedom of movement, a local government official, speaking at a press conference in the city, only said she has the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens and they will be protected in accordance with the law, when asked if she will be allowed to leave China.
The official also said she has freedom, but added they want her to avoid any trouble while in the midst of her grief.
It remains unclear, nonetheless, whether Liu Xia, a poet, will be allowed to leave China.
Chinese authorities have faced pressure from the couple's supporters and other countries to allow her to go abroad in line with her wishes.
She was put under house arrest in Beijing without trial after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the peace prize in 2010 "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China" while in prison.
She was permitted to see him in his last days at a hospital in Shenyang, but she remains under strict surveillance and has no access to the outside world.
Not all of Liu's relatives were able to take part in the service to bid farewell to him.
The deceased's brother-in-law, Liu Tong, told Kyodo News over the phone that he and a number of others were blocked from attending the ceremony.
"We are very angry," he said.
Zhang Qingyang, an official of the local government's information department, claimed Liu was cremated in line with the wishes of his family and local customs, adding Liu Xia was given the ashes.
The local government provided photographs of the ceremony, including one showing Liu Xia, wearing black clothes and glasses, embracing a black and white picture of her husband.
The deceased was recently moved from prison to the hospital after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
An outspoken critic of China's one-party political system, he was detained in December 2008 and sentenced 12 months later to an 11-year prison stint for "inciting subversion of state power" over his role in drafting a manifesto calling for peaceful democratic reforms, known as Charter 08.