Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo dies, Chinese government says

"Today, I join those in China and around the world in mourning the tragic passing of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died while serving a lengthy prison sentence in China for promoting peaceful democratic reform", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

One year later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work campaigning for human rights in China. Chinese government resisted worldwide pressure for sending him overseas saying he was being given the best medical treatment possible with the help of topnotch Chinese doctors, and doctors from Germany and the United States.

But Beijing refused to let him and his wife, Liu Xia, leave the country.

Liu Xia, who reportedly suffers from depression and a heart condition, has been under house arrest since 2010, when her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. "I feel that, in a dictatorship, if you want to be a person with dignity, if you want to be an honest person, you must fight for human rights and fight for freedom of speech", Liu said in a 2007 interview.

Worldwide human rights groups, Western governments and local activists had urged authorities to free Liu and grant his final wish to be treated overseas.

"We find it deeply disturbing that Liu Xiaobo was not transferred to a facility where he could receive adequate medical treatment before he became terminally ill", said Berit Reiss-Andersen.

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The doctors said Liu and his family had requested that the remainder of his care be provided in Germany or the United States. "Liu Xiaobo was for decades a central voice for human rights and China's further development".

But the government had warned repeatedly against interference and said Liu was being treated by renowned Chinese cancer experts.

The U.S. and German governments as recently as Wednesday had urged Chinese authorities to allow Liu to leave the country.

Liu, who died aged 61, was transferred from prison to First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in late May.

"This is a political murder undisguised", Wang said in a Facebook post, calling the day "the second June 4 incident" in reference to the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

  • Adam Floyd