Chinese authorities released civil rights activist Liu Xiaobo from prison on medical parole after the Nobel Peace Prize winner was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Liu, 61, was determined to be in the late stages of the disease and is receiving treatment at a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing Liu’s lawyer.
In a statement posted late Monday, the Liaoning Prison Administration Bureau confirmed that Liu had been released.
A poet and literature professor, Liu was detained in late 2008 shortly after he led the drafting of a pro-democracy manifesto that spread widely in Chinese intellectual circles.
He was declared guilty on Christmas Day the following year and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. Writers including Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood lobbied for his release.
In 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a move that deeply angered China, which described the activist as a “criminal”.
Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, has since been under house arrest.
In a smartphone video posted to the WeChat instant messaging app by a family friend on Monday, Liu appears distraught over news of her husband’s illness.
“He can’t undergo surgery, or do chemotherapy or radiation therapy,” she says in tears.
Patrick Poon, a China researcher for Amnesty International, called on Chinese authorities to ensure that Liu receives adequate medical care and access to his family.
Liu participated in the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations on Tiananmen Square, and wrote extensively about them after China’s military was called in to crush them, the Journal noted.
The manifesto Liu helped write, “Charter 08″, called for a broad set of changes in China, including a new constitution, to bring about a more democratic system, though it stopped short of calling for the overthrow of the Communist Party.
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