Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights activist recently diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer, has been released on medical parole and moved from his prison cell to a hospital.
Liu was a prominent leader during the Tiananmen Square protests almost three decades ago, and he spent two years in prison for crimes against the state. He was arrested in 2008 for “inciting subversion,” which involved writing a pro-democracy manifesto. The government sentenced him one year later to eleven years in prison, and he has three years remaining on his sentence. While the Chinese government perceives Liu as an anti-state criminal, he is recognized as the “foremost symbol” of the fight for human rights in China, according to the Nobel committee, which awarded Liu the peace prize in 2010.
Liu, now in his 60s, was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago, according to his brother. Liu was released a few days later and is now receiving medical care at a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning.
“This type of late-stage cancer is very difficult to treat, it would have been easier if it was discovered sooner,” Shang Baojun, one of Liu’s lawyers, told reporters.
Liu was awarded a Nobel prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu had an opportunity to leave the country, but he chose to stay to promote change from the inside.
After the Nobel committee, appointed by the Norwegian parliament, awarded Liu the peace prize, which he never collected, China froze diplomatic relations with Norway. Relations were not normalized until last December. Authorities also put Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest. She has been in detention for seven years, although she has never been formally charged with a crime.
It is unclear if Liu Xia, who reportedly suffers from depression due to her isolation, knows that her husband has terminal cancer or if she will be permitted to see him while he’s receiving treatment.
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