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OSLO, Norway | Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo tops speculation for the Nobel Peace Prize — one betting site has already declared him the winner — though some experts expect a more low-key choice on Friday.

Two women are also hot candidates in this year’s Nobel buzz: Afghan women’s rights activist Sima Samar and Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina.

The last woman to win the coveted award was Wangari Maathai of Kenya in 2004. Of the 97 peace laureates to date, only 12 have been women.

Mr. Liu, who was sentenced Christmas Day to 11 years in prison for subversion, has received by far the most attention in the annual guessing game for the $1.5 million award.

From wire dispatches and staff reports