Liu Xia in five key dates

Liu Xia was kept under near total house arrest without formal charges for almost eight years, her only crime being her love for Liu Xiaobo - a dissident whose calls for democracy had angered Beijing

Nearly eight years after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xia is free. Kept under near total house arrest with no formal charges, her only crime was loving Liu Xiaobo -- a dissident whose calls for democracy had angered Beijing.

The Chinese government said she was a private citizen, free to go at anytime. But her residence was kept under a tight guard, her movements restricted, and, almost a year after her husband's death, she had nearly given up hope of ever being released.

Now she is on her way to Berlin, thanks in part to the behind-the-scenes efforts of German diplomats.

Here is a timeline of her de facto house arrest.

- October 8, 2010 -

Liu Xiaobo is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Liu Xia's de facto house arrest begins soon after.

- May 23 2017 -

Liu Xiaobo is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. He is sent to a hospital in Shenyang days later, where Liu Xia joins him. They are kept under guard and out of public view.

- July 13, 2017 -

Liu Xiaobo dies, becoming the first Nobel laureate to die in captivity since the Nazi Germany era. Liu Xia is incommunicado. Diplomats begin to pressure China to let her leave for Germany in accordance with her husband's last wishes.

- July 16, 2017 -

Liu Xia scatters her husband's ashes at sea. It is the last time she is seen in public for almost a year, during which time she is held in Beijing under de facto house arrest.

- July 10, 2018 -

Liu Xia flies out of China on Finnair flight A85 headed for Berlin.

Liu Xia was kept under near total house arrest without formal charges for almost eight years, her only crime being her love for Liu Xiaobo - a dissident whose calls for democracy had angered Beijing