Liu Xiaobo
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Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, right, and his wife Liu Xia are shown in an undated photo released by his family in October 2010. Photo: Reuters

Nobel committee chief urges ‘full freedom’ for terminally ill Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner was granted medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in the midst of his 11-year jail term

Liu Xiaobo

The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee wants the Chinese government to give “full freedom” to Liu Xiaobo, who was granted medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in the midst of an 11-year jail term.

Liu was jailed in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after helping to write a petition known as “Charter 08”, calling for democratic political reforms in China. A year later he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.

A demonstration poster by the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China in January urged people to send their blessings to dissidents then detained on the mainland, including Liu Xiaobo. Photo: Felix Wong

During the 2010 ceremony, a chair that ostensibly would have been filled by Liu was left empty in protest of the Chinese government’s imprisonment of a political dissident.

“We expect he will be granted full freedom, including the right to travel abroad,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, said in an email to the South China Morning Post.

“He has an open invitation to [come to] Norway to receive his Nobel Prize.”


Asked if the Chinese government should have released Liu before his cancer reached a terminal stage, Reiss-Andersen said: “Yes. Mr Liu should never have been imprisoned for exercising his right of freedom of speech. We are happy Mr Liu has been released, but sad that the circumstances are his failing health.”

The Liaoning Prison Administration Bureau confirmed in a statement that Liu had been receiving treatment at the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang.

Liu’s medical parole – and news of his terminal illness – come just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping is to visit Hong Kong. Yang Jianli, a US-based critic of China who was jailed by Beijing for five years in 2002, called on Hongkongers to pressure Xi to let Liu be treated in the US.

Yang said on Twitter that the seriousness of Liu’s cancer makes it urgent to transfer him to a medically advanced country.

The prison authority said the China Medical University hospital in Shenyang has set up a team of eight renowned Chinese cancer experts to treat Liu.