China's Nobel-winning dissident in 'critical condition'

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China's Nobel-winning dissident in 'critical condition'

China's cancer-stricken Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo is in a critical condition, the hospital treating him said today, raising fears about his life a day after Western doctors said there was time to take him overseas. "While a degree of risk always exists in the movement of any patient, both physicians believe Mr. Liu can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support".

The evacuation "would have to take place as quickly as possible", they added.

The German Embassy in Beijing has expressed deep concern over leaked audio and video surveillance recordings of a visit by a German specialist to imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo at a Chinese hospital.

The German government says Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes for a "signal of humanity" toward imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and his family, which hopes he will be allowed to receive treatment for advanced liver cancer overseas.

Liu's health has been the subject of global attention after news emerged in late June that the dissident had been transferred to a Chinese hospital because of late-stage liver cancer.

If China were to release him, Jared Genser, a lawyer representing Liu internationally, said he was ready to evacuate him.

Beijing has come under fire from human rights groups over its treatment of Liu and for waiting until he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in late May to release him from prison on medical parole.

Mr Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power" after he helped write a petition known as "Charter 08" calling for sweeping political reforms. In answer to recurring questions from reporters at the daily news conference Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang repeated the often-heard lines that "related countries should respect the judicial sovereignty of China" and not "interfere in China's internal affairs". The Chinese government put together a team of renowned cancer experts to treat Liu, but they fly in and out of the hospital, and they sometimes offer consultations over the phone, friend and activist Hu Jia said.

"Liu Xiaobo should be a free man". In 2010, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work campaigning for human rights in China.

Earlier this month, 154 Nobel laureates across six disciplines signed and sent an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, urging the Beijing authorities "on humanitarian grounds to grant Liu Xiaobo and (his wife) Liu Xia's wish to travel to the United States for medical treatment". On Monday the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Beijing for a "signal of humanity for Liu Xiaobo and his family".

The Chinese government, which continues to censor domestic news coverage of Liu, has been waging a public relations offensive in the face of strong global reactions to the story. The alliance leads the annual June 4 commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

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