BEIJING: Imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo has been transferred to a hospital after being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer, his former lawyer said Monday.
Liu, 61, was in stable condition at a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang, lawyer Mo Shaoping told The Associated Press. Liu was diagnosed on May 23 and prison authorities then allowed him the medical parole, Mo said.
Liu, China's best-known political prisoner, was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted of inciting state subversion in 2009 for writing and disseminating Charter '08, a document calling for democracy.
The following year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norway-based Nobel committee, a move that greatly angered the Chinese government. In April, Beijing normalized relations with Oslo after a six-year hiatus.
It was not immediately clear if Liu was being allowed visits at the China Medical University No. 1 Affiliated Hospital in Shenyang. Mo said he believed Liu's wife, Liu Xia, had traveled to the city.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, said Monday he was not aware of the latest development in Liu's case.
The news of Liu's diagnosis shocked and saddened fellow human rights activists in China.
"It's known that Liu Xiaobo and his family have made a tremendous sacrifice for the cause of freedom and democracy in China," said Shanghai-based legal scholar Zhang Xuezhong. "This is unfortunate news for him and his family, and it's a blow to China's democracy movement, as so many people have placed hope in him, and rightfully so."
Zhang said no effort should be spared in treating Liu, and his family must be fully informed of his treatment plans. "His life is so important that I think he should get the best possible treatment with full knowledge of his family, even if his family has to make agreements" with the government, Zhang said.
Guo Yuhua, a professor of sociology at the elite Tsinghua Univeristy in Beijing, said she was angered by the news. "Those with conscience have given so much to this country, yet they are persecuted by the totalitarian rule," she told AP. "Those who have done evil will sooner or later be held accountable, and written into the history to be spat on forever."
She urged Beijing to provide the best medical treatment for Liu and facilitate his travel if he and his family wish to seek treatment outside China. "Life and dignity should be first and foremost in this case," Guo said.