Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo’s body was cremated Saturday in a ceremony attended by family, including his wife, the government of the city of Shenyang in northeastern China said in a briefing.

Liu’s wife can be seen in pictures handed out by the Chinese government, who wore dark sunglasses, being comforted by her brother in a funeral parlor as they stood in a row with Liu’s older and younger siblings and their wives. Liu’s body lay in an open casket in the center of the room, surrounded by an arrangement of potted white flowers.

The briefing was the latest in a tightly orchestrated Chinese government propaganda campaign seemingly aimed at countering criticism that Beijing has failed to handle Liu’s case in a humanitarian way. A video about Liu’s hospital treatment released on the website of the city’s judicial bureau Friday appeared aimed at the same objective.

 

The government also said the couple’s friends attended the ceremony, a claim that was disputed by people who have long been close to Liu. In the handout images, none among a group of people standing by the casket were identifiable as any of Liu’s friends, said Mo Zhixu, a dissident writer who is friends with Liu.

“This regime has long been acting without humanity, that’s why they denied him even a minute of freedom even until his death. I have nothing to say other than that I’m extremely infuriated,” Mo added.

In Shenyang, a spokesman for the city’s information office said at the briefing that authorities were looking out for Liu Xia’s interests and insisted that she is free.

“As far as I know, Liu Xia has freedom. But she just lost her relative and is in deep sorrow,” spokesman Zhang Qingyang said.

“After Liu Xiaobo’s death, let Liu Xia tend to his affairs and try to keep her away from external interference.”

Liu was only the second Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in prison, a fact pointed to by human rights groups as an indication of the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly hard line against its critics. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died from tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while serving a sentence for opposing Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Tributes have rolled in from around the world to mourn Liu, but there is little mention of him in China’s heavily-censored state media and social networking platforms. One notable exception is a newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party which on Saturday said the West was “deifying” Liu, a man the paper described as a criminal who was “paranoid, naive and arrogant.”

“Liu’s memorial tablet cannot find a place in China’s cultural temple,” the Global Times newspaper said in an editorial. “Deification of Liu by the West will be eventually overshadowed by China’s denial of him.”

The newspaper’s editorial marked a rare mention of Liu in the Chinese-language media, possibly indicating a desire to guide popular opinion amid widespread reporting of his death in the overseas press and on social media platforms such as Twitter that are blocked in China.

 

His last was for co-authoring “Charter 08,” a document circulated in 2008 that called for an end to one-party rule.

He was in prison when he was awarded the Nobel in 2010, which Beijing condemned as an affront to its political and legal systems.