STOCKHOLM (AP) — This year's Nobel literature winner Mo Yan, who has been criticized for his cozy relationship with China's Communist Party, defended censorship Thursday as something as necessary as airport security checks.
He also suggested he has no plans to join an appeal calling for the release of the jailed 2010 Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo.
Mo has been criticized by human rights activists for not being a more outspoken defendant of freedom of speech and for being a member of the Communist Party-backed writers' association.
His comments Thursday, made in Stockholm, appear unlikely to soften his critics' views toward him.
Awarding him the prize has also brought criticism from previous Nobel winners. Herta Mueller, the 2009 literature laureate, called the jury's choice of Mo a "catastrophe" in an interview with the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter last month. She also accused Mo of protecting China's censorship laws.
Mo said he doesn't feel that censorship should stand in the way of truth but that any defamation, or rumors, "should be censored."
"But I also hope that censorship, per se, should have the highest principle," he said in comments translated by an interpreter from Chinese into English.
Mo, a Communist party member and vice president of China's official writers association, spoke at a news conference in Stockholm, where he is spending several days before receiving his prestigious prize in an awards ceremony next Monday.
Addressing an issue that is extremely sensitive for China's authoritarian Communist regime, Mo likened censorship to the thorough security procedures he was subjected to as he traveled to Stockholm.
"When I was taking my flight, going through the customs ... they also wanted to check me — even taking off my belt and shoes," he said. "But I think these checks are necessary."